Flake willing to support background checks, with changes to internet sales
May 7th, 2013
09:16 AM ET
11 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. Paul

    Fitting name.

    Mayors Against Illegal Guns has police chiefs that think AR-15s will blow a deer up.

    Deer mouse, yes. Actual deer, no. Many states prohibit hunting deer with .223 because they aren't lethal enough.

    May 7, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. Opinion8iit

    How convenient - allowing private sales on the internet is basically moving the controversial "gun shows" to the internet. Billy & Bob will just go online and sell hundreds of guns to criminals who cannot pass background checks, all under the guise of "private sales". If the senator is really serious about this, he should set a limit on how many private gun sales are allowed per year.

    May 7, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  3. Sametestsameresults

    @ the real tom paine – Let's look at your statement with the facts – fire arms available in mass quantities are only 400 yrs old at best, never at any time in ANY countries history in the first 300 yrs of mass production has the local populations ever owned so many weapons. Only America has seen the local masses owning guns when settling the new land. Since that time Guns have NEVER been confiscated other than as a law enforcement action. Even after the Civil War guns and swords were returned to the officers!!! Your fears are based on media hype generated by the NRA and paid for by gun manufacturers.

    May 7, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  4. glorydays

    For whom? His constituents? No, for himself.

    May 7, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. Sniffit

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

    So, just so everyone can get the GOP/Teatroll position straight:

    Inconvenience and cost for rural folks who want to own and trade guns = bad, throw a hissy fit.

    Inconvenience and cost for "urban" folks who want to exercise the right to vote = good, throw a hissy fit anyway.

    Any question?

    May 7, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. Sniffit

    "If he were to get this exception, anyone could just set up shop on Facebook and sell guns without background checks. "Accept my Friend Request, get a gun!""

    That's the whole point. They are fighting to make the system broken. The legalized black market via loopholes is a cornerstone of NRA and gun nut philosophy. Why? GUN VIOLENCE SELLS GUNS. It's that simple.

    May 7, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  7. gf333

    What's the big deal? Register guns, do background checks, require licensing & liability insurance ... just do whatever simple measures are possible to check the risks of guns. All this doesn't mean you can't have a gun ... just steps to go through to make sure you don't have what are deemed wrong types of guns, and to make sure potential killers don't have them, and to make sure all the idiots out there know how to use the guns. We don't just let people drive cars around without making sure they know how to use them and carry insurance ... why not the same with guns?

    May 7, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. ghostriter

    Data, the ATF....you know....the agency in charge of enforcing gun laws, has stated many times that there is no way of tracking guns. Which would be essential to stopping most of this madness. This paranoid conspiracy theory is just another in a long list of issues with conservatives.

    But it sould surprise no one. The GOP is responsible for gutting this agency to the point where in 2013, they have to go thru paper files in order to get anything done. One thing they mentioned was since background checks are destroyed, they have no evidence to prosecute those who failed.

    In other words, the GOP has legalized destroying evidence. And they wonder why the prosecutions of these guys are so few. They made it as such.

    May 7, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  9. Brian

    @ Rationality
    Thank you for your response. I believe this registry that you speak of is the NICS system. However due to a lack of coordination between the local, state, federal law enforcement agencies as well as the medical and mental health profession/industry, people like the V. Tech, Tuscon, and Aurora shooter slip through the cracks. It doesn't seem that the UBGC system that is being pushed, fixes those issues. The Newton shooter simply took his mother's guns which were obtained by someone without mental health issues (although that could be debated based on her poor parenting skills) so that would not have had any impact.
    I guess I'm just confused why people think this legislation, which now causes to do a background check on someone that I have known for years, which is unenforceable without registration of firearms, will have any impact. Aurora, V. Tch and Tuscon shooters all passed background checks. Shouldn't we be focusing on better coordination between all these agencies to stop these types of individuals from clearing the background check system rather than a useless stepping stone?

    May 7, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  10. jaymo

    OK for all of you people that have no idea how this works. YOU CAN NOT BUY A GUN ON THE INTERNET and take possion of it with out a NCIS background check NOW!!! when you make a purchase on line the weapon MUST be shipped to a licensed FFL and they CAN NOT sell you the gun with out doing a background check!!! learn the law we already have on the books before making new ones that do the same damn thing!!

    May 7, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. goosenco

    OK will you PLEASE stop posting that there are only 4.5 Million NRA members...NOT All gun owners are MEMBER'S of the NRA.

    May 7, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. Sametestsameresults

    @ Bill- I have watched our government compromise repeatedly doing favors and changing votes. Your rigid, my elected official cannot change his opinion after learning more is what is polarizing our government. This man Flake is a friend of Gabby – she was shot in the head while addressing constituents in a public place in AZ. The perpetrator used military style weapons with large capacity magazines (over 10 rounds) and he had warning signs pyschologically that might have been found during a back ground check. What is your problem here?

    May 7, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  13. pokey5735

    These Senators should NOT change their minds regarding their vote on this assault on the 2nd Amendment rights. These articles never expose the full extent of the proposed laws and its affect on our Constitutional rights.
    No gun control bill will prevent acts of violence. If someone is intent on harming another they will always find a way. Gun control only controls law abiding citizens. Criminals could care less.

    May 7, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  14. Michael Guice

    "Document just ONE time that happened in the course of U.S. History. Just ONCE." Well, the revolutionary war for starters. Why hasn't it happened since then? Well, again, it's happened in liberal Chicago and liberal DC and liberal NYC. But why not on a national level? Because the voters haven't allowed it to. Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it won't if we hesitate for a minute.

    May 7, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  15. GUESSED

    I love to see them squirm, and try to explain why they just could not vote for your will, Try to convince you that he really wanted to vote for it but... Never intended to vote for it, but is willing to lie to you though

    May 7, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  16. NickAnast

    Flake already lied once about his vote. Why should anyone believe him now?

    May 7, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  17. Barry G.

    It's amazing how pressure from the public can motivate a politician to do something–even the right thing.

    The public should speak up more often; otherwise, the lobbyists will continue to purshase the loyalty and support of our leaders, and you can see how well that has worked.

    May 7, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  18. Aerin

    guess that's why he's called flake, can't make up his mind so he let's the NRA do it for him.

    May 7, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  19. mike electrician

    And just exactly why wouldn't you just ask your friend if they want to buy your gun in person? Doesn't sound like a friend to me if you can't wait to discuss it over a BBQ dinner. You could email them or text them "Hey Joe, how about we get together for dinner on Friday". Then during the dinner, I am sure you will discuss common interests...(hunting maybe) and say, wow you really ought to check out my 30-06!. And go from there. Sorry Sen. Flake, your argument falls flat as a snow flake.

    May 7, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  20. ghostriter

    Brian, the reason they pushed this bill is because it was a compromise. Republicans said the only thing they MIGHT vote for is expanded background checks. The registry is what liberals and as it turns out, law enforcement have been asking for for years. NICS only does background checks. Matter of fact, this information would be useful in prosecuting those who broke the law on those background checks. But since those records must be destroyed via GOP lawmakers, it is that much harder for an agency that is already defunded and de-fanged to do anything.

    As it stands, there is no way of tracing guns past it's original point of sale.

    May 7, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  21. Weasel Hunter

    Nice to see how "flexible" this guy's ethics are. What a typical politician.

    May 7, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  22. ghostriter

    jaymo, then why are republicans and the NRA saying they are against expanding background checks then? I'll give you a hint: It ain't because there are no loopholes.

    May 7, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  23. markiejoe

    So if a brother in Mobile decides to sell a gun to his brother in L.A. who's crazy mad at his landlord for evicting him, that sale shouldn't be traceable and subject to a background check?

    May 7, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  24. Snarky MacFee

    Flippancy does not equal charm.

    May 7, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  25. ST

    My fellow Dems, these republicans think that we are all stupid. We would like to let them know that we are not. They are now talking about people who died in Benghazi. We would like to let them know if they start such business, we would like to know why did people die in Iraq war? What was the reason? If it is about negligence, there was huge negligence gap in starting Iraq war. Can we start what came first? Was it Benghazi or Iraq war? Those people who passed away in Iraq, wanted to live like anyone else, but their lives were cut short. If GOP wants to deal with negligence acts., let us start with Iraq war first, and Benghazi will follow next.

    May 7, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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