Patriots owner Bob Kraft explains why he 'didn't hesitate' to lend his plane for March For Our Lives rally

ORLANDO — It wasn’t quite a call for gun control, but New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft had a message for Washington politicians Monday: Something needs to be fixed in the wake of the Parkland (Florida) school shooting, and he’s applauding the students who are pressing for meaningful legislation.

Kraft recently made headlines by lending his private jet to a group of Parkland students in the aftermath of the school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. The Patriots owner said Monday from the NFL owner’s meetings that he contributed his plane after being reached by retired astronaut Mark Kelly, a family friend who is the husband of former Representative Gabby Giffords, who suffered partial paralysis from a 2011 shooting. Kraft said Kelly asked him if he would offer the Patriots’ team jet for a group of Parkland students hoping to attend the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., last weekend. Kraft –- who has been one of the NFL’s most visible supporters of President Trump -– said he didn’t hesitate at granting the request, while also applauding a rally that has been heavily criticized by the National Rifle Association and some politicians stumping for gun rights.

See other sports figures supporting the march: 

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Athletes support March For Our Lives
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Athletes support March For Our Lives
Feb 27, 2018; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) wears sneakers with the name of "Joaquin Oliver" one of the victims in the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl during the first half against the Philadelphia 76ers at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
#marchforourlives IAM proud of each individual that’s apart of this movement towards change. Today our current leaders voices will be heard and they will not be denied.
#MarchForOurLives Salute the youth making a REAL impact!! ❤️❤️
Humbled and proud of this generation taking the lead. Their time is now. #MarchForOurLives https://t.co/6WpG7AxMKK
My family marching for their lives. I am so proud to be from Parkland and so inspired by not only the students at M… https://t.co/OkMA2MPYRY
If you can get out & support @AMarch4OurLives today I am proud of this generation standing up for injustice & havin… https://t.co/Ie9MiIFoHb
March for our Lives . #marchforourlives #georgeclooney https://t.co/sEBl6vWolU
March for our Lives @mileycyrus #MarchForOurLives https://t.co/y9Ts3gA7Ua
I’m marching in LA today. Please find your nearest march and support this life and death matter. #NeverAgain https://t.co/CFMviwgUPu
Reminder today to get out and march! Thank you to the young generation for inspiring all of us and reminding us tha… https://t.co/ZYhOc7anVu
Ben Simmons warming up in a #MarchForOurLives shirt. https://t.co/2iT1zORVhW
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“Think of little kids going to school and seeing bullets in America going over their head,” Kraft said Monday. “Something’s not right, and we’ve got to fix it. And congratulations to these kids for trying to get the attention of this country focused on it. I hope our friends in Washington are smart enough to figure out a way to listen to one another and do something that can be positive.

“I have a big problem with what’s going on in Washington and the divisiveness and no one is listening to one another,” Kraft said. “Forgetting where you stand on this issue, when they called and asked, ‘Would you send a plane to help take the wounded kids and their families?’ Kids who couldn’t go on a normal plane because [they’re injured]. We didn’t hesitate in a minute. All of you who have kids, think about losing one of your kids, who, you wake up in the morning, they go to school and they don’t come home at night. We had a plant right near [the Sandy Hook elementary shootings in 2012], and I had a chance to get involved in a few things there and see how it impacted the parents. I just thought, this is a way for our organization to be able to reach out to these people who were hurting bad. I can’t think of a worse, unnatural thing than losing a child.”

Despite being in an NFL ownership fraternity that often goes far out of its way to avoid political hot-button issues, Kraft’s support of the Parkland shooting victims and survivors has been particularly impassioned. Not only did he donate his plane, he left a personal note for those who traveled on it to the weekend’s rally. The note, which was published Monday by MMQB.com, began with a quote from author and famed anthropologist Margaret Mead, stating:

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

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Robert Kraft through his career
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Robert Kraft through his career
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft answers a reporters question as coach Bill Parcells (L) laughs during a morning press conferenece January 22. The Patriots will meet the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI January 26. SPORT SUPER BOWL
U.S. President George W. Bush poses with the New England Patriots and their owner, Robert Kraft (L), and Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick (R), during a Rose Garden ceremony honoring the 2001 NFL Champions at the White House, April 2, 2002. The Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI 20-17. REUTERS/Win McNamee WM/HK
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (R) and head coach Bill Belichick hold the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the Patriots' 24-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship in Foxboro, Massachusetts, January 18, 2004. REUTERS/Mike Segar JS
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (R) greets fans prior to Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston, February 1, 2004. The Patriots are playing the Carolina Panthers. REUTERS/Mike Segar PJ
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie (L) and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft embrace prior to Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, February 6, 2005. Kraft outbid Lurie in 1994 for the ownership of the Patriots, and Lurie bought the Eagles one year later. Lurie is from the Boston area and roots for the Patriots, except when they are playing the Eagles. REUTERS/Mike Blake GAC/SV
New England Patriot owner Robert Kraft holds the Vince Lombardi trophy after Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Florida, February 6, 2005. REUTERS/Mike Blake CBSV
U.S. President George W. Bush poses with members of the New England Patriots football team at the White House. U.S. President George W. Bush poses for a group picture with players and officials from the New England Patriots football team including team owner Robert Kraft (L) and head coach Bill Belichick (R) during a welcoming ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, April 13, 2005. The Patriots won the 2005 Super Bowl earlier this year. REUTERS/Jason Reed
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) and New England Patriots Chariman and chief executive officer Robert Kraft laugh before the start of a game in Foxboro, Massachusetts, September 24, 2006, while announcing that the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks will play in the first NFL game in China. The game will be played August 8, 2007. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES)
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft smiles on the sidelines before his team's NFL football game against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, New Jersey December 29, 2007. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES)
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (R) chats with referee Mike Carey prior to the NFL's Super Bowl XLII football game between the Patriots and the New York Giants in Glendale, Arizona, February 3, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES)
Chairman and CEO of the New England Patriots Robert Kraft (R) poses with Andre Tippett after Tippett was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, August 2, 2008. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (R) poses with New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch (L) and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft before a Super Bowl XLVI news conference in Indianapolis, Indiana February 3, 2012. Super Bowl XLVI between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants is set for play on February 5. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (R) kisses former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe (L) as he holds the Larmar Hunt Trophy after the Patriots defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL's AFC Championship football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts, January 22, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft arrives at the 20th annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party in West Hollywood, California February 26, 2012. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT HEADSHOT)(OSCARS-PARTIES)
Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft claps on the field prior to the Patriots' 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft laughs during activities held before the start of the NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Glendale, Arizona, February 1, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (left) walks the field with girlfriend Ricki Noel Lander before Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
U.S. President Barack Obama (C) holds a replica jersey he was given as he plays host to the reigning NFL Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, including head coach Bill Belichick (L) and team owner Robert Kraft (R), on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington April 23, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Aug 7, 2015; Canton, OH, USA; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft poses with enshrinees Jim Kelly, Marv Levy, Bill Polian, Thurman Thomas, Will Shields and James Lofton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 22, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft celebrates after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2017 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-38 in Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots NFL team owner Robert Kraft poses at Elton John's 70th Birthday and 50-Year Songwriting Partnership with Bernie Taupin benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the UCLA Hammer Museum at RED Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles, March 25, 2017. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
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As Kraft said Monday, part of his emotional perspective on gun violence stems from his relationship with Giffords and her husband Mark over the years, and seeing how the Congresswoman’s life changed forever after surviving a shooting that left her with a significant brain injury.

“I’ve had the pleasure of being with them and I was thinking, how sick is it that a woman is donating her life to public service and then is injured in a way that’s permanent — by something that is so unfortunate and cuckoo,” Kraft said. “… They’re wonderful people. Every time I see her and I think of how she has been slowed down a little in public service of the country. That’s nuts. How are we going to get good people [to serve]? We have to have empathy and a sense of concern for all points of view, for all people and be good listeners. I thought [lending the plane] in a small way allowed us to do that.”

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