Sen. Flake Tells Mom Of Aurora Shooting Victim He Supports Background Checks, Then Votes Against Them

by
Owen Poindexter
Jeff Flake, Senator of Arizona, was one of 44 Senators who voted against expanding background checks on gun purchases to include online sales and gun shows. Before making this vote, he told a woman who lost her son in the Aurora movie theater shooting that he did support background checks.

Jeff Flake, Senator of Arizona, was one of 44 Senators who voted against expanding background checks on gun purchases to include online sales and gun shows. That's bad. Before making this vote, he told a woman who lost her son in the Aurora movie theater shooting that he did support background checks. That's terrible. We don't have to take her word for it either, Flake expressed this in a hand-written letter:


Image: ThinkProgress.org

From the third paragraph: "While we may not agree on every solution, strengthening background checks is something we agree on."
 
But, let's give Senator Flake a chance here. Legislation is rarely straightforward when it's introduced, and amendments can introduce poison pills or unrelated provisions that can turn a good bill bad. So what did Flake say to explain his vote against expanding background checks?
 
He said the bill "would expand background checks far beyond commercial sales to include almost all private transfers, including between friends and neighbors."
 
Whether that's a good reason to vote against a bill is open to debate, but it's not a reason to vote against this bill, because this bill did not touch gun sales between citizens (as opposed to between a citizen and a business). According to Politico:
"The bill crafted by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) would have applied background checks to online and gun show sales, but would have left private, person-to-person sales unregulated."
Why is Flake being a sucky person and senator? It's a simple political calculation: as one of the incoming freshman of the Senate class of 2012, he doesn't have to worry about reelection until 2018. He will have chances at gun bill redemption before then, and if he doesn't, the voters of Arizona will mostly not remember. In the meantime, it still benefits him to be on the good side of the NRA and the rest of the gun lobby, who will feed him campaign donations if he is good to them, and fund a primary against him if he steps out of line.
 
What I'm saying is, hate the player (Flake) a little bit, but hate the game (campaign finance) more, and work to change it.
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