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. Sniffit

    He bucked and kicked and claimed the poll numbers that showed he took a hit for voting against the background checks were false...but he's broken now. Ride 'em, cowboy.

    May 7, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  2. Leslee

    How about fruit salad? I care about all Americans. What could we have done? Hold our leaders accountable when they do not do their jobs. Maybe if we had held Bush accountable for his actions, Obama and Hillary wouldn't have been so lackidaisical (sp) in protecting our Ambassadors. Maybe if we would enforce the laws we have now, and actually prosecute the felons who attempt to get guns there would be less guns in the hands of criminals. I heard on the news last night, a city is doing a buy back of guns; turn in your guns and you get cash. What are they doing with those guns they collect? Selling them to the public!! As for your other assumptions, I am an Independent, I don't watch Fox news, and I actually think for myself. I know...shocker...who knew people actually do that anymore.

    May 7, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  3. Just a Question

    Which is more likely to happen in the next 12 months?

    A. The government becomes tyrannical, and we use all these guns we are able to get so freely to successfully defend the populous.

    B. The ever looming (yet fictitious) suburban race war finally happens and we are able to defend ourselves and our property.

    C. Another "responsible" gun owner uses his arsenal to mow down five or more people.

    Now replace "twelve months" with "life-time" and the answer will still be C.

    May 7, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  4. beernpizzalover

    I wouldn't vote for this guy just because of his name: Flake!

    May 7, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  5. ST

    @ Dave
    I do wonder the way you do think? You said we are taking advantage of what happened in Newtown!!
    Here is my question: If someone breaks to your house, you have no strong fence/gate, your doors have been loose, you didn't have any dog to warn you that someone is breaking in. Will you keep quiet and do nothing, if the breaking was done in your nearby neighbour? Boy! can you try to be realistic!

    May 7, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  6. JAIColorado

    Did the stone kill Abel, or did Cain do it?
    Did the knives kill Julius Ceasar, or did a bunch of angry men?
    Did the cross kill Jesus, or did the Romans?
    In a sword fight, did the sword kill or the person holding it?

    Interesting questions. Controlling the object will not stop bad things from happening with them. Bad guys will not follow the law and will get their weapon of choice no matter what it is, regardless what laws are in place.

    May 7, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  7. rino

    What is the point of having background check if sales on the internet are not subject to it. This guy is right, he is below pond scum for his quality of being even more slimy then the pond scum.

    May 7, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  8. Brian

    I'm new to this whole, "Post a Comment" thing. But I didn't see anybody answer my question above. Can someone please tell me, how this universal background check legislation would have prevented Newtown, Virginia Tech, Tuscon/Giffords and/or Aurora?

    May 7, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  9. The Truth Hurts

    "A Democratic polling firm's survey showed Flake as the most unpopular senator in the country"

    Now there's an unbiased source!

    May 7, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  10. TM

    Let's look at the basis of the bill. Universal background checks. That means if you sell a gun, you have to get a background check on the purchaser. Legit gun shops have to do it. But internet sales and gun shows are exempt? Level the playing field. The checks are too expensive and too onerous is BS.

    Loop holes are driving this country into the ground. Everyone pay taxes, except you, you and you. Clean up your business, except that guy over there. Oooh, if I fund the President's cause, I will get that pardon for my brother-in-law convict, not once, not twice but thrice.

    May 7, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  11. anony

    Anyone who suggests that we will eventually have to fight out government is an idiot.
    This isn't two hundred years ago.
    And this isn't Syria.

    May 7, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  12. PaulG

    @Brian, UBGCs would not have prevented any of the mentioned incidents as far as I can see.

    May 7, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  13. JonfromLI

    Last night I watched an episode of HBO's "Vice" where a Baptist grade school in New Mexico held training sessions for all of its students in how to respond if a perp with a gun storms into the school. Four of the teachers carry handguns themselves, and they were training the older kids (young teenagers) to rush up and tackle an armed assailant. Try to picture the scenario: an armed assailant loaded to the teeth with AR-15s, glocks, shotguns, etc., and you're expecting a group of 13 year olds to confront and stop him. These people who run the school need a dose of reality. If you're that paranoid over an armed assailant taking over your school, HIRE MORE SECURITY GUARDS. You have nearly as good a chance of being struck by lightning as you have of a gunman taking over the school.

    May 7, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  14. rs

    The Truth Hurts

    "A Democratic polling firm's survey showed Flake as the most unpopular senator in the country"

    Now there's an unbiased source!
    Unfortunately for Flake, and you- it happens to be true. He was pummeled in his home state, a very Red home state, and refused to meet with people he promised in private and public that he would support the bill- and the evidence is that he is trying to undo his gaffe. Look, he lied to people, got caught and is paying the price.

    May 7, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  15. LittleAztec

    Inconvenient? Costly? So are funerals.

    May 7, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  16. ST

    @ Leslee
    May ask you to take your fruit salad anywhere else and don't bring it to Dems Party. No one is ready to eat it.
    You asked you must hold people accountable. Why didn't you do it to "W" when he authorised thousands and thousands to die in unnecessary war. Do you think it is too late to hold him accountable? Those who died in Iraq and in Benghazi have no difference. It is all about letting lives go and never come back. You can not let lives in one side go without being recognised, and allow lives in the other side be recognised. Hey, man/boy, you should know that you are dealing with well-educated people!

    May 7, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. Mike

    Of course background checks won't prevent any of these things. Most states don't even bother to report who they convict or declare insane. They should, but they don't because they are managed by inefficient government bureaucrats. These gun "control" laws just make people who don't like guns feel good about themselves.

    May 7, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. rs


    @Brian, UBGCs would not have prevented any of the mentioned incidents as far as I can see.
    As just one example the man who tried to kill Congressman Giffords (and actually killed 9 others) bought his weapons and ammo at WalMart. He was obvioulsy crazy.

    May 7, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  19. Beater

    The purpose of Gun control is to limit the amount of damage that can be done. No one wants to take away all guns but Military assault rifles and 100 round magazines are pushing the limit. These weapons are made for killing the Max amount of people in the least amount of time. A few pistols or a shotgun to protect your family is one thing but are you really gonna go for that Big ass AK47 when you hear that noise. Common sense people. Im currently in the military and i dont need one when im not in Afganistan.

    May 7, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. bp

    This is just talk; Flake will never vote yes for anything the NRA opposes. He's bought and paid for.

    May 7, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  21. wild man

    register your firearms, then outlaw firearms, then take your firearms it's happened time and time again through out history That's their agenda we can not allow it to happen to us just read the bill of rights and the constitution people and if you don't agree with them get out of our free country

    May 7, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |

    Al,there is no language that will work, its just another excuse to vote the way his big super pac donors told him. vote with big money or lloose campaign financing and face being primarried. they are using their money to control legislation. will we figure a way to take our country back, or continue our downward spiral of flat wages and huge corporate profits, why do you think they hate unions so much? because they give you bargaining rights, and a fair wage, our union shop will be 100 years old soon, going strong

    May 7, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  23. rs


    Did the stone kill Abel, or did Cain do it?
    Did the knives kill Julius Ceasar, or did a bunch of angry men?
    Did the cross kill Jesus, or did the Romans?
    In a sword fight, did the sword kill or the person holding it?
    So explain why the Right (which is bed with the NRA) is itching to go to war in Syria, Iran or North Korea over their weapons? After all, following your "logic" nuclear weapons don't kill and neither does Sarin gas.

    May 7, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  24. Pushover

    I think the Senator needs to read the report that just came on the true stats on the steep drop in gun violence the last 20 years, and what he hopes to accomplish. Very few of the gun violence is coming from guns bought at gun shows. The majoriy of deaths are coming from guns obtained illegally or through the drug trade. How about background checking those people? See today's Washington Post.

    May 7, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  25. rs


    If he changes his vote, I hope Arizona voters remove him from office.
    Duh! Its the people he represents in Arizona that are hammering him for lying to them.

    May 7, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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