US store refuses rifle to shot lawmaker's husband

A US gun store refused to sell a rifle to the husband of former US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who has become a champion of the anti-gun lobby since her 2011 shooting.

Diamondback Police Supply said it had given former astronaut Mark Kelly a refund for the Sig Sauer M400 5.56mm assault rifle he ordered, because it suspected he had ulterior motives for seeking to buy a weapon.

The Arizona gun supplier's owner Douglas MacKinlay said he would give the rifle to a local police group and donate $1,295 to an organization which teaches children about guns.

"While I support and respect Mark Kelly's 2nd Amendment rights to purchase, possess ... his recent statements to the media made it clear that his intent in purchasing from us was for reasons other than for his personal use," he said.

Kelly told CNN earlier this month he wanted to have "firsthand knowledge about how easy it is or difficult it is to buy" an assault weapon.

"It is actually pretty easy. You know, for a weapon that's so deadly and really designed for the military, especially with the high-capacity magazines, it is a pretty easy thing to do, even with a background check," he said.

"In light of this fact, I determined that it was in my company's best interest to terminate this transaction," even before Kelly took the necessary steps for a background check, MacKinley said on his company's Facebook page.

The store said the rifle will be donated to the Arizona Tactical Officers Association, which represents SWAT police officers, to be raffled off to raise funds to buy equipment for the group's members.

The Tucson gun store will also donate the price of an M400 rifle to the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program which teaches young children about guns.

Giffords was shot in the head at point blank range and grievously wounded in January 2011 while meeting constituents in Tucson, in an attack by a deranged gunman which killed six people.

She announced in January that she was forming her own lobby group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, after a visit to Newtown, Connecticut where 20 children died in December in America's latest mass shooting.

There was no immediate response to a request for comment from Kelly about the Arizona store's decision.