Flake willing to support background checks, with changes to internet sales
May 7th, 2013
09:16 AM ET
12 months ago

Flake willing to support background checks, with changes to internet sales

Washington (CNN) - Republican Sen. Jeff Flake told CNN he is willing to reverse his opposition to expanding background checks for guns if the Senate bill's sponsors change a provision dealing with internet sales.

Flake said the only reason he voted no was because of his concern that the requirement for background checks on internet sales is too costly and inconvenient, given the way guns are often sold among friends in his state of Arizona and others.

He said under the measure as written, if a gun owner sends a few friends a text or email asking if they want to buy their gun, or posts it on their Facebook page, "that is considered a commercial sale."

For people in rural areas in his state and others, he said that becomes inconvenient and costly.

Flake admitted that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, the measure's chief sponsor who is trying to revive it after a devastating Senate defeat last month, may not be able to change the language in a way that satisfies him. But Flake insists he hopes they can figure it out.

Manchin and gun control advocates need to convince five senators to go from "no" to "yes" in order to find the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster.

The legislation would have expanded a requirement for gun background checks on internet sales and private sales at gun shows.

A Senate Democratic leadership aide said Monday that they don't anticipate or expect to get a deal on background checks in time for the bill to be reconsidered this work period, which ends just before Memorial Day weekend.

Flake, a first term senator, is close with former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who, along with her husband, had been lobbying Flake to support expanding background checks. They were publicly highly critical of Flake's decision to vote no.

Some Republicans opposed the measure out of fear that expanding background checks would put the country on a path to a national gun registry, but Flake said that is not his concern.

"I know that is not what this bill does, just the opposite," Flake said.

During last week's congressional recess, Flake was the target of gun control group protests.

One group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, sent a woman whose son died in the Aurora movie massacre to try to see Flake in his Phoenix office so he could see the "pain in her eyes."

A Democratic polling firm's survey showed Flake as the most unpopular senator in the country, prompting Flake to post on his Facebook page that puts him somewhere "below pond scum"

Still, he said he got plenty of positive feedback back from home for opposing the background check measure as it was written.

"I'm comfortable with where I am, pond scum or not," he said with a smile.

– CNN Senior Congressional Producer Ted Barrett contributed to this report.


Filed under: Arizona • Gun control • Gun rights • Jeff Flake • Senate
soundoff (266 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    No, No, No!!!!! You will not have the opportunity to change your vote at the stake of weakening this legislation. This is bipartisan legislation. You should have voted Yes for it to begin with. Shame on you!!! Your colleague Gabby Giffords begged you to support this legislation and you said no.

    May 7, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  2. Warren

    Is that another way of saying I can't be seen as helping the President??

    May 7, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    Interesting that this comes right on the heels of the NRA lovefest over the weekend. Maybe the NRA, with it's new birther-spouting, Confederacy loving, anti-American obergruppenfuehrer has seen the limit of its influence.

    May 7, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  4. rs

    Flake got hammered at home in Arizona over his promise to vote for the bill, then giving in to the NRA, and turning it down. The gun nuts and the NRA need to take note here. Arizona is a VERY red state. If Flake can get in trouble here for not voting for more comprehensive firearm background checks, no politician is safe when 90% of the population wants something, and will not support the NRA down the road.
    The NRA's hyper-radical "we need to arm citizens to fight a tyrannical government" and their hostile statements towards the President show this crowd is little better than white supremacist militia thugs. Real Americans reject such ultra radical and irresponsible groups.

    May 7, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  5. ST

    @Dutch/Bad News
    I beg to disagree with you. Anyone who is volunteering to back the background checks is mostly welcomed. This is the very touchy issue. It is all about lives. Even if one or two lives will be saved, that will be a very good move. Please don't compare lives and commercial deals. These are two different things all together and with different value.

    May 7, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. Richard Miller

    The NRA is a group of terrorist that holds this country hostage. Anyone helping them in any way should be arrested and charges with crimes against the citizens of this country.

    May 7, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  7. Snoopz

    Wow. Someone doesn't agree with you, and he's a horrible person. Check.

    May 7, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. It's Me

    Flake is a flake. Passing more laws won't solve the problem, we can't even enforce the ones we currently have. Illinois is a good example of how more gun legislation DOESN'T work. They have required you to register and carry a FOID (Firearm Owner ID) since the early 70's and Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws yet the crime hasn't decreased and Chicago has one of the highest murder rates in the country.I am happy to live in a state that supports our Constitution and 2nd Amendment.

    May 7, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. Thomas

    Flake is such a sold out yes man .

    He agrees with the bill , he just thinks there's an anther way to get it done.

    Just like the GOP on Taxes , Deficit , " Obstructionists ".

    For the corporations , by the corporations ,

    May 7, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  10. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    When you vote against what 90% of what the PEOPLE want, it makes you ask yourself, "Who do you work for?" The Republican Party is leaning more and more towards fascism.

    May 7, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  11. ghostriter

    What a Flake. I know....too easy....

    I'm sure we can find a way for Bubba to sell his gun to John Boy without them having a fit.

    May 7, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. BytraWatches

    They want this background check passed? Then like with the current background check at gun stores, all background check paperwork needs to be destroyed after background check is completed. If this background check paperwork is saved, then that is the first step to create a guns database. Gun ownership databases will only lead to gun confiscation by a tyrannical government. If the government doesn't want to appear as if it is on a path to tyranny, then drop the provision requiring background check paperwork be saved!!!

    May 7, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  13. viaquest

    Flake says it all! What's in a name anyway? Everything! Go ahead and Flake out and change your vote, your voter base in Arizona will change theirs too! then you can live off of Government money like the rest of Obama's supporters! Any GOPer voting for this 2nd amendment violating bill better enjoy this term, it will be their last!

    May 7, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. Curtis

    I just bought a firearm online. Had it shipped to my local FFL dealer and they ran a background check on me before I could even see my gun. I guess when they talk about background checks for Internet sales they are talking about private Internet sales.....

    May 7, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. LiberalJoePlumber

    If he changes his vote, vote him out next election. Simple as that.

    May 7, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. GonzoinHouston

    Pro-gun people often point out that the American Revolution was largely fought with privately owned weapons. Do they understand that this was also the ONLY time such weapons were used to defend the nation?

    May 7, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  17. KW

    @Dutch/Bad Newz, We don't live in a Democracy. Our Republic was purposely set up to defend a minority against the tyranny of the majority. The system has done it's job in this case, and for that I am glad.

    May 7, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  18. Smitty

    Too little too late. Pathetic politician trying to appease the voters. "Oh, the vote is over with? I meant to vote the other way!"

    May 7, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  19. Senior

    I live in Arizona, did not vote for Sen. Flake last time, but I do give him credit for this move – it shows he
    can think for himself. It is a great show of independence.

    May 7, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  20. Paul

    Why would anyone in their right mind vote against background checks for mental illness. Does anyone want a mentallaly incompetent person moving in next door and then stockpiling weapons that they bought who knows where? Does anyone believe a felon should be able to buy guns at random? Apparently the NRA and several congressman do!!!!

    May 7, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  21. pchelp, Juneau, AK

    There should be a distinction, not necessarily in gun legislation, defining which Internet 'postings' are public vs private. IMO (FWIW) Facebook and Twitter are public, text messaging & email are private.

    May 7, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  22. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Inconveniencing and costly Senator? Really? Do you know how inconveniencing life has been for the families who have lost their love ones at Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, Sandy Hook and all across the country Sir? Do you know how much it cost these families to bury their love ones? Why don't you just be honest and say the only reason you voted against the bill is because you're a bigoted selfish racist?

    May 7, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  23. Oakspar77777

    Flake flakeing out on Freedom? Sad, when he comes from a freedom loving state like AZ.

    Why should Americans be for a compromise that willing gives away freedoms in exchange for other freedoms that are already ours by right? The anti-freedom gun control crowd has NOTHING to offer us that is not ours by right – and I am not a fan of buying back the possessions of my own house from the thieves that stole them.

    May 7, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Why is this even news? There is no chance this would pass the House.

    May 7, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  25. Leslee

    I keep seeing "If it will save 1 or 2 people then it is worth it". But I guess when the number gets to 4 then we don't care...Benghazi

    May 7, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
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