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

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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. Lisa

    You can't sell your car to a friend or family member without paperwork, this should be no different. Background checks on any gun owner/gun sale. I am a veteran and gun owner and approve this message.

    May 7, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. rockysfan

    Wouldn't want to check those details before you voted now would you? No, that would be way to adult and professional. Something you aspire to or are just playing at? If playing, please get out of the way of the American people, we will be heard!

    May 7, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. Ancient Texan

    Standing up for the second amendment rights of all Americans is a disgrace? Who would have ever thought that the dialogue would sink to this level. What's next? Outlaw the first amendment?

    May 7, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. Ratherbboating

    One of the points missed here is that Obama has said nothing about the abortion doctor that kill little babies. If one life could be save, is this what liberals say? Then stop abortions and you will save a lot of lives.

    May 7, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. scott

    Canada had a gun massacre; they put strict gun controls into place. Australia had a massacre; they put strict gun controls into place. Both countries' citizenry were overwhelmingly in favor of this. In the U.S., we run out and buy more guns and propose that everyone carries one all the time. We are insane, plain and simple.

    May 7, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. sawtooth

    getting heat from the financial supporters, hey what! politicians can never make up their own minds, always go with the money crowd

    May 7, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. bigbendjc

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    If you profess to revere the 2nd amendment then what does the word "well regulated" mean to you? Background checks?
    And for those who choose to call names instead of a intelligent dialog then please don't bother replying.

    May 7, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  8. Ron NoSpam

    The quickest way to reduce gun deaths is to require gun owners register their fire arms and then hold them responsible should one of their unsecured guns be used to commit a crime. Charging them with "accessory" for supplying guns seems reasonable, while making it a felony ensures irresponsible gun owners may never again possess guns that may be used improperly.

    May 7, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. mike.g

    I agree that a more nationalized standard should be established for it to be more effective, reports so far however suggest that the difference would be next to none. I will pull a couple pieces from a November 2001 US Department of Justice report for you. (Outdated a bit I know, this is the most recent report I could easily find.)

    "Approximately 203,300 prisoners serving a sentence in a State or Federal prison in 1997 were armed when they committed the crime for which they were serving time...In 1997 among State inmates possessing a gun, fewer than 2% bought their firearm at a flea market or gun show, about 12% from a retail store or pawnshop, and 80% from family, friends, a street buy, or an illegal source."

    I am not entirely opposed to expanding it to gun shows and internet sales. I do not believe that it will do any good, but if planned properly could be possible to make some difference. While you can look at the V-Tech shooting as one example on how the system failed, the other shootings have shown nothing to support this. Sandy Hook: stolen from someone who purchased legally. Aurora: purchased legally. Columbine: Stolen, purchased legally while assault weapons ban was in effect. The proposals measures are little more than a placebo for the people, to make them feel like something was done. I have little doubt Dems will take credit for that, and gain a boost in voter support as a result.

    For personal clarification, I am a gun owner. I do not support the NRA. I do not support any lobby for that matter. I am an independent, and don’t care for the GOP or Dems in equal measure.

    May 7, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. Ancient Texan

    Jon- when you mention mass killings, the 50 million babies murdered by Roe V Wade comes to mind. Ban scalpels!

    May 7, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. Troy


    If background checks save ONE life...are we better off? Was it worth it? It was if you were that life or the mother or father or brother or sister of that life!!! That's the point. If you force someone to use a knife or something else to kill with. Then you have made it more difficult to do a terrible action. When we know better,we need to do better."

    If is saves just ONE life, you should ban knives, bottles, fast food, hammers, cars, busses, buildings more than 3 floors high, and so on and so on. You should do away with welfare and food stamps, and teach people how to fend for themselves instead relying on social programs like fish to bait.

    This is not about saving lives! This is not about controlling guns! This is about controlling people and creating sheep! Nothing more.

    May 7, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. Haroldbr

    In case anyone isn't aware of this, the police CANNOT protect individuals from most crimes. They don't have the resources and nobody wants to pay the taxes necessary to give them the resources. It is up to each individual to protect themselves by whatever means they choose. Because of the potential threat to my safety, I choose to carry a gun. A police officer carries a gun to protect himself and if it's the best option for him/her, then it's the best option for me. When there are extremists like feinstein that want to ban guns altogether, i'm not inclined to agree to any form of gun control, including universal background checks.

    May 7, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  13. JustAO

    Those arguing that the crazies will get guns no matter what only make us wonder if they are the ones who plan on performing next mass shooting. Is that why they say it doesn't matter so they can slip through the system and get weapon without background check as to not be questioned of their mental stability?

    May 7, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  14. mike.g

    Also, there is an issue with personal background checks which I have not heard a solution to yet. Typically, finding someone on a government database requires personal information, ex. SSN, DOB, Name, etc. I don't think many people would be comfortable with handing that information over to a stranger they are trying to buy a firearm from over craigslist.

    May 7, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  15. Inspire

    Good. I am sick and tired of hearing gun violence victims act as some sort of proxy for actual factual evidence and realistic review of policy and events. These folks share one thing in common – they refused to take responsibility for their own self-defense and arm themselves. They entrusted their police with that repsonisbility. The police were not able to stop the violence.

    And rather than campaign against criminals with guns, they want anyone with a gun to be considered a criminal. You want common sense? How about you stop parading around amateur philosophers who defy any attempt at a rational, fact-based conversation about gun control with their emotive pleas. Infringing on the rights of decent Americans will not bring them closure. How about we focus on the real probalem and address it with real solutinos.

    Fact is that the 2011 Department of Justice statistics on crime clearly show that Assault Weapons are involved in less than 0.1% of all gun-related homicides. Fact is that Adam Lanza reloaded multiple times and was not subdued during the process – magazine capacity legislation would not have stopped him. In addition, any AWB would have undoubtedly grandfathered his mother's Bushmaster in, and even if it didn't, the man still had 2 other non-AWs on a Tactical Vest during the massacre.

    As for common sense – if the bill being proposed wasn't over 500 pages long and hadn't been stuffed full of so many radical overreaches while it was in committee, then folks might atcually trust it. Facts are that government actually is trying to confiscate guns. Cailfornia already does it. The Illinois state legislature brough it to a full vote just last January. America is sick and tired of radical leftists pretending to be centrists just to pass their agenda. As for the effects of such legislation – California has the highest gun murder rate per capita in the country – Chicago shares a similar distinction at the municipal level – in spite of the fact that Illinois requires all gun owners to submit to background checks every 3-4 years by the state police and carry an FOID card – even to purchase ammo.

    So when radicals try to tell you these laws "only make sense", ask them for the evidence – the facts, the numbers that back that assertion up – that's how you can tell how full of bull they really are. America is wising up, Congress – you could've passed UBC in January before your all-out assault on 2nd Amendment rights, but now people have had a chance to actually think about how your laws would have any effect at making them safer – and they realize that they don't.

    May 7, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. Bill Wallace


    I'm in favor of background checks for all gun sales, but, face it, background checks would not have prevented any of the mass school shootings. The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to not let him get a gun in the first place, but nobody has the guts to limit sales of assault rifles or limit the number of bullets a gun can hold."

    penguin, we all assume that you're aware that the FBI Crime statistics show that people use hammers and clubs to kill people more than use all rifles combined, including those with the made up name of assault rifle. Do you propose a ban on hammers and clubs? Or just on firearms that you don't happen to like?

    May 7, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. viltor

    Flakes objection is absurd. Any sale is a sale, whether you do it through Facebook, texting or dropping by someone's house. He is asking as long as you say it's a friend of yours you can sell it or give without a background check. That would gut the whole purpose of the law.

    May 7, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  18. Caesar

    Rise And Shine SLEEPERS!
    Read the news for what it is, THINK, then form your opinion. Sen. Jeff Flake's "concern that the requirement for background checks on internet sales is too costly and inconvenient."

    How does this debate trump important issues like affordable healthcare, poverty in this nation and the cost of living and unemployment.
    Are these things not of concern or importance?

    These people DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU, your life or how many suffer. But are quick to present their concerns and let YOU bicker, fight and talk day and night about THEIR issues.

    Rather than do actual WORK they present to you what they think you should talk about. They do NOT REPRESENT YOU or work for YOUR true concerns but rather DISTRACT you with futile debates while they reap benefits of TOP TEIR Healthcare, BONUSES, Bribe (Lobby) Money, and job security.
    Do not complain about what is wrong in the country and the world because WE the people let them get away with it. Politicians KNOW this and their way of thinking is "If what I am doing is wrong then why do I still have a job?"

    May 7, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. yogi

    Evolution has it's pace, but it takes much more time to catch up with Republicans. Eventually they also will enter civilization, in their next life, in a world where guns are a thing of the past dark ages.

    May 7, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  20. alogolf

    Why is it we never hear of new laws being proposed to toughen the penalties for someone who is a convicted felon and is not allowed to possess firearms?? Why do we not toughen the penalty for the possession of a firearm-however it is obtained-for a convicted felon or other prohibited person?

    Creating a law that says all gun transfers need to go through a background check is a clear violation of the 2nd amendment. I will not support any candidate who believes we need any laws that affect law abiding citizens or suppress the 2nd amendment.

    If a person who is prohibited from owning a firearm goes to a gun show, borrows a gun, steals one, or deceitfully uses any means to attempt to purchase one, than laws need to be made tougher for the person doing this. The majority of honest law abiding gun owners do not need hoops to jump through when going to gun shows or giving away or selling a firearm to someone else.

    Why can't all prohibited persons have their driver licenses or official state issued I.D.'s mention that they are prohibited from possessing or using firearms?? Also, a law could be made tougher for someone who knowingly sells or gives a firearm to a prohibited person, and that such a person will be subject to strict punishment as prescribed by such a law.

    I would like to know that there are politicians who stand for Freedom and will not allow the good and honest people of this Country to be bullied by small minded anti-freedom individuals in political office-or the media.

    Jeff Flake is not one of them....

    May 7, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |

    This is a game in this Senator's mind. He uses Congress for his own gain. There was no principal for voting NO to gun legislation. He just uses it for later bargains.

    May 7, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  22. km

    Flake is now trying to back track in face of stiff opposition from within his own state.
    The tide is turning and the NRA will be sent packing. No more bullying from this organization of thugs....
    We shall overcome!!

    May 7, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Manchin = Too late the hero. All of the democrats in the world isn't going to make a difference. This tired old dog just won't hunt. Thank God for the "SANE" thinking Republicans or the dems WOULD have our guns!!!

    May 7, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. The REAL Truth...

    @Inspire – Good. I am sick and tired of hearing gun violence victims act as some sort of proxy for actual factual evidence and realistic review of policy and events. These folks share one thing in common – they refused to take responsibility for their own self-defense and arm themselves. They entrusted their police with that repsonisbility. The police were not able to stop the violence.
    As an American citizen in the 21st century, I shouldn't have to "take responsibility" for my own self-defense and "arm" myself. We're not talking 17th Century here people. Why should MY right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness be overruled by your right to a myopic view of the world. More guns is NOT the solution. That this country has come down to CHL, semi-automatic (and automatic) weapons for self-dense is outrageous and unacceptable. Yeah, I've heard all the gun lobby arguments about mental health (Tho' I suspect many of them are in need of psychiatric help themselves) and that new laws only impact law-abiding citizens. Hmm... if we only passed laws that didn't impact law-abiding citizens, we wouldn't have any laws. Get rid of the guns. Confiscate illegal weapons and SEVERELY punish offenders. Let the pot-heads out of jail to make room if needs be, I shouldn't have to own a 12-gauge for self-protection.

    May 7, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. plain&simple

    @ Bill Wallace......guns were made to kill......therefore it's intended purpose. Hammers and clubs ie baseball bats were not. What's the point of saying anything so irrelevant???

    May 7, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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