The anti-Trump

Mark Kelly, astronaut and anti-gun activist, aims for civility.

“One of my favorite things to do is — and it makes my staff a little nervous at times — is to go and talk to protesters,”

.. “I’ll walk across the street. I walked across the street to the gun show,” he added. “So, I mean, that’s why I like to engage with them, and sometimes it usually doesn’t go so well right in the beginning. But if I stand there and listen and then engage them in a positive way — and I understand these people, I own guns — usually, by the end, it’s a pretty positive experience for all of us.”

.. If Kelly has devoted himself to a cause, he’s equally intent on projecting an air of respect to people who don’t agree with him, on an issue

.. “I feel that if somebody is going to show up and be involved in the process, they have a right to be heard,” he told me.

.. “If you’re a felon, you shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun or possess a gun — so why do we make it easy for felons to own and possess guns?” he asked. “The same goes for domestic abusers, even people that are suspected terrorists, people who are dangerously mentally ill. … Frank Luntz is a Republican pollster, and he polled NRA members on background checks, and that came out at 74 percent. Nationwide, it’s about 90 percent.”

.. What makes Kelly unique as a messenger is the fact that he’s been a lifelong gun owner and a congenital badass.

.. “I almost died 10 times before I was 15 years old,”

.. “I’ve been shot at 39 times,” he told me with a sheepish grin, “in airplanes.”

.. “You often hear the folks on the other side, the gun guys … about how, if everybody has a gun, everybody will be safe — ‘Well, if I was there and I had a firearm,’” he said. “People don’t realize what an emotional and crazy experience it is to have somebody trying to kill you. … And that’s where I kind of get back to this concept that people think they’re Clint Eastwood. It is not the movies.”