Does Jeff Flake Support Expanding Background Checks, or Does He Not?

Categories: Morning Poll
frosted-flake-side.jpg
The (completely un)official cereal of Senator Flake.
Senator Jeff Flake claims to support expanding background checks for gun purchases.

He also voted against expanding background checks for gun purchases, which might seem confusing, because that doesn't make sense.

See also:
-Is Jeff Flake a Wuss for Voting Against Expanded Background Checks?
-John McCain Bucks the NRA, Supports Expanding Background Checks for Gun Sales

"I support background checks," Flake posted on Facebook last week. "In fact, I believe background checks need to be strengthened, particularly as they relate to those with mental illness."

That was part of his explanation of why he voted against the "Manchin-Toomey" amendment to expand background checks, which Senator John McCain did vote for.

People have been digging up Flake's comments about background checks over the last week, and his vote makes even less sense.

He said in a handwritten note to a mother of a victim of the Aurora theater shooting that "strengthening background checks is something we agree on."

After his vote, he told Gabrielle Giffords that he was sorry, but "didn't know what else to say."

His spokeswoman admitted to one news outlet that Flake "has never supported universal background checks," but did want to see the background checks system "strengthened," as if that provides any meaning to anyone.

What's your opinion? Does Flake actually support expanding background checks, or does he not?



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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.



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47 comments
jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

Expanded backround checks = SB1070 = Assault weapons ban. All three are political pandering non solutions.

Greg Puch
Greg Puch

Yeah. I wasted all that time taking stats. I must not understand that a larger sampling will yield more accurate results. Keep em small and simple. Makes for better press. How's that journalism degree working out ?

Phoenix New Times
Phoenix New Times

It seems you might be missing the basic idea of how polls work.

marcy
marcy

We need to strengthen background checks on people who purchase pressure cookers.

Greg Puch
Greg Puch

Washington Post poll :1003 people polled Fox poll: 1003 people polled AP-gfk poll: 1004 people polled ABC: 1003 NBC: 1000 CNN: 1012 Quinnipiac: 1711 Morning Joe: 1219 CBS: 1181 Pew: 1504 Hsrtford: 1002 Gallup: 1013 Public Religioin: 1013 Population of United States 313,914,040 - Jul 2012 Source: U.S. Census Bureau Thanks for posting the link with more poll results. If you find that to be an acceptable representation of Americans...Whatever suits your cause, even though its laughable.

Greg Puch
Greg Puch

Again with the ridiculous numbers. get over it. i actually found these two polls touting this total. One was 1503 people, one was 1900 people polled. I'd say thats not quite a representation of 313M Americans. stfu new times

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

It's not clear to me whether Matthew is genuinely confused, or if he's just being manipulative.

If you really don't understand the difference between "strengthening background checks" and supporting "universal background checks", then you should find some topic other than gun control to cover.

Even with the clue "particularly as they relate to those with mental illness", Matthew seems to have missed the point that what Flake, like most Americans, really wants is for the existing background checks to be worth the expense, certainly before bothering to expand this worthless system.

Loughner passed the current "background check". 


ger52749
ger52749

Well lets see, if i did that, could i be arrested?  I say puit his big, fat, 2liter of coke,greasy chicken licking ass in jail. That is if they can find a cell to accommadate his zip-code area ass

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@marcy  And then expand that to cover people who buy them at yard sales and Good Will?  Will I have to file federal paperwork to give my co-worker one as a wedding gift?

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@eric.nelson745  In general, that may be true, but in this case, I don't see it.

"strengthen" and "expand" mean two completely different things.  When you're listening to politicians, you really need to go beyond just noticing that "he said something positive about background checks" to actually consider what the particular words he chose mean, and maybe, if you really care about what he's thinking, you should also consider what he didn't say that you might have expected to hear.  Otherwise you'd be fooled by people like Clinton or Bush or Obama, who are masters at making people believe they said something that never actually came out of their mouths (in Bush's case, it was his handlers who were masters.  I wouldn't call him a master of any sort of speechificationizing).

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

@valleynative It doesn't matter one bit what you or I think. All that matters is what the NRA tells little Jeffy to think.

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

@valleynative Yes, because the system had no record of convictions or that he could be dangerous because of his SMI.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative  I think the point is the inconsistency in Flake's statements. He supports the nebulous concept of "strengthening" - which is a broad, vague undefined term, voted against the current bill that strengthend backround checks, -but hasn't bothered to put forward his own set of proposals or define the parameters of what he sees as "strengthening."

So he supports strengthening background checks as they relate to mental illness. What does that mean? Does that mean mandatory reporting of mental ill patients to the state mental heatlh system for all mental heatlh professionals? Does he support creating a national database of mental health records that is tied to the current background check system? Does that mean an independent psychological examination for each prospective gun purchaser? What exactly does "background checks need to be strengthened, particularly as they relate to those with mental illness" mean. And even if the current bill didn't get all the way there, why didn't it constitute a step in the right direction?

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@shadeaux14  Why do people assume that the NRA has to tell people what to think?  All you need to do is really try to understand what this bill would have done to see that it was a waste of time.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@eric.nelson745 exactly.  So how would making more people perform such a worthless "background check" be strengthening anything?

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public  I don't see any inconsistency at all.  "Expand" and "Strengthen" are two completely separate concepts.

The checks would still have been nearly useless, but would have been imposed upon more honest citizens (but not upon more dishonest citizens).

The fact that he didn't expound on implementation details of strengthening background checks does not make him any less sincere and is not in any conceivable way an inconsistency.   Strengthening the checks without violating citizen's rights will be a complicated task.

The solutions that will actually do some good generally don't fit neatly into a sound-bite like "universal background checks".

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative "It would have been a waste of money and would have made people believe that something useful had been done when really, nothing had changed."  You have no data to support your assertion that nothing had changed.  You have no data at all to suggest how many prohibited purchasers purchase firearms at gun shows with cash because no records are kept.  None. You simply have no data to prove your point whatsoever so you have no ability to tell me whether this bill, which strengthens background checks by requiring them at gun shows would be effective in making it more difficult for prohibited purchasers from purchasing firearms.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public  Nobody paid me a dime, and I understand the bill the same way as Flake.  So do most of the people I know who actually read the bill.  It would have been a waste of money and would have made people believe that something useful had been done when really, nothing had changed.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative Right.....and a $350k independent campaign spend had nothing to do with Flake's "understanding" of the bill.  If you see Snow White in Fantasyland today send her my regards.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public  The fact that 86% backed *some form* does not mean that 86% would have backed this particular bill if they understood it as well as Congress did.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

A presidential election is a different dynamic. There is so much money in a presidential election that it is harder for any single donor to be as influential. State races don't have as much money flowing in so a smaller spend can have a bigger impact.

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

The NRA endorsed John McCain in his presidential bid. Sometimes the money works and sometimes it doesn't.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative So you are both argumentative and delusional.  Fair enough.

But its a fair question - why was there ever any discussion on this bill when its clear that campaign spending trumps public opinion?  Polling indicates that 86% of Americans favored some form of strengthening or expanding (your word) of background checks into private gun sales, but yet the measure failed.  So you're right - why even bother with the committee hearings and discussions in light of these facts?

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public The only answer can be "sometimes it does".  I'm sorry, but the real world isn't black and white and there is no way of knowing whether they support him because he votes in their favor or if he votes in their favor because they support him.

If they could simply buy all the votes they want, why was there ever any discussion about this bill?

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative Now you are being argumentative for the sake of being argumentative.  No, your contribution is not buying, or even influencing, an elected official because you're not spending enough.  Your $2,600 (federal contribution limit) contribution does not even move the dial. 

Do you believe that a campaign spend of $346k, whether it is by the NRA, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Teamsters or the Teachers Association, influences the vote of the elected official that was the beneficiary of that spend?   Yes or no - straight up question.  Does a $350k campaign spend influence the vote of the elected official that was the beneficiary of that spend? 

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public  So if I contribute to a candidate, am I buying their vote?  Or am I doing what I can to ensure that the person who best represents my interests is elected?

 In your mind, do our elected representatives only ever vote for gun rights if they're being paid to do so?

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative You are completely correct, the NRA does not tell elected officials what to think.  The NRA buys their votes.  You are correct in asserting that those are two very different concepts.  The NRA spent $346,752 in outside expenditures to assist Jeff Flake in defeating Richard Carmona in the last election cycle.  Flake was the single biggest recipient of NRA spending on the Senate Judiciary Committee.  That kind of spend buys an awful lot of votes. 

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@eric.nelson745  How would this catch anybody?  They know enough not to try to buy from a dealer, and instead, have a "cousin" buy for them.  Worthless.

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

@valleynative @eric.nelson745 Is it worthless if you catch a prohibited person (from possessing firearms, i.e. a felon) from buying a gun? I'd go further. If such a person even attempts to buy a gun, the cops would be called.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative No.  No it doesn't.  Being disingenuous is different than lying in the context of this discussion or any discussion.  They are different words with different meanings.  They are not synonyms of each other.  I said, "It wasn't until after the vote that he apparently began to making this distinction, which is why people see his pre-vote comments on the issue as being disingenous." I used a specific word for a specific purpose - and I was precise about it.  I'm sorry that you don't understand that or can't comprehend that.  If I wanted to say that I felt he was lying - I would have said that I thought he was lying.   You can't make words mean whatever you want them to mean just cause you want them to.  It doesn't work that way.  These were my comments and for you to even try to tell me what I meant by them is simply absurd.  Why you refuse to accept this and insist on being wrong is beyond me.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public Again, get past your concrete thinking and realize that I said that "in the context of this discussion", which is concerned with whether Flake was being deceptive or honest, "disingenuous" and "lie" both align with the "deceptive" conclusion.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative Goodness gracious, your the one who can't stop thinking in strictly black and white terms or concrete terms or however you want to phrase it. 

You can give a false impression without lying.  See the example above.  The student gives the false impression that she did really well in school when in fact she didn't, but she didn't actually lie. She was disingenuous without lying by not disclosing the D.   There is a difference between being disingenuous and lying.  That is why they are two different words.  Lying is black or white - being disingenuous is shades of grey.  Disingenuous is the "concepts" that YOU are struggling with.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public You seem to think very concretely and have difficulty with concepts.  "not straightforward or candid" means "giving a false impression".

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative

Disingenuous - adj. Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating.

adj  lacking in candor; also: giving a false appearance of simple frankness : calculating

An example: you have a young student at home and she received 2 grades in school today - an A and a D. She comes home from school and tells you proudly that she got an A on a test. She isn't lying - she really did get an A. So her statement is truthful. But she is being disingenuous because she isn't being completely candid about all of the grades that she received today by not disclosing the D. Now, if you ask her if she got any other grades and she says no, then she is lying. But if you don't ask her, then she is being disingenuous by not disclosing it without being asked.

Does that help? 

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public Yes, actually, giving a false impression is the definition of "disingenuous".  What did you think it means?

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative That's not the accepted definition. 

"Pull out (or pull up) a dictionary and look up "disingenuous.""  (Isn't that the arrogant, snotty line you used earlier).

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public Here's a great example of the usage of the word "disingenuous".  In the context of this discussion, there is no significant difference between saying "he lied" and saying he was "disingenuous", because in either case, the meaning is that he deliberately gave a false impression of his feelings, while the truth is that he said exactly what he meant.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative I never said I believed he lied, nor did I suggest that I believe he lied.  I said that I felt he was disingenuous.  In fact, that is exactly the word I used when I wrote: "people see his pre-vote comments on the issue as being disingenous."  If I wanted to say that I believed that he lied, I would have used that term, but I didn't.  I said what I meant and I meant what I said and I was precise about it.  Why do I have to explain simple grammar and usage like that?

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public Where did I say that you used that term?  I said that you believe he lied.  Saying that you believe something isn't the same as saying that you "said" that thing.

If you believe that when he said he wanted stronger background checks, he meant that he favored "universal background checks", then the fact that he voted against them means that you believe he lied.

Why do I have to explain simple logic like that?

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative Can I look up obfuscate, too?

Where did I say he "lied"?  Since we're talking about the precise use of language, show me where I used that term, if you would please.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public In the face of the full context of his statement, including the reference to mental patients, and in the face of his actions, you really think that I'M the one who's misinterpreting what he meant?

It's glaringly obvious that when he said "strengthen", he meant that he wanted to make the checks, themselves, "stronger", as in, checking more and better information (like whether you were a mental patient), not that he wanted to expand them to be used in more situations.

Given the choice between "he used the language correctly, instead of how I interpreted it" and "he lied", you're choosing to believe he lied?

Pull out (or pull up) a dictionary and look up "strengthen" "expand", and "obstinate". 

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative I disagree with your lignuistic interpretation of the common usage of the word "strengthen"

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public It could only be people who know nothing at all about the current background checks, or the proposed changes, who would conflate the ideas of expanding the current checks to private sales with the idea of strengthening checks.  I guess there are more of those people than I imagined.

If I erect a cardboard barrier along part of my property line, and I say that I want to strengthen it, it would be outrageous to think that I mean to make it longer.

Extending the current checks to private sales would have done almost exactly nothing of any benefit.  Criminals could still buy stolen guns from each other, people with no criminal record could still buy guns for their fellow gang members, etc.  "Strengthen" doesn't really apply.

 

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@valleynative Many people view including private sales in background checks as the only meaningful way to "strengthen" that background check laws because that is where criminals easily obtain weapons.   When people heard Flake say that he was in favor of "strengthening" background checks, including private sales is what they almost universally believed he was referring to.  It wasn't until after the vote that he apparently began to making this distinction, which is why people see his pre-vote comments on the issue as being disingenous.  If he was against "expanding" background checks as you are referring to it here, he probably should have made that distinction clear in advance instead of allowing creating a false perception about his position.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public I feel like I should point out that I'm not generally a big fan of Flake, but I do agree with him in this case.

I'd also like to stress the point that the politician who doesn't claim to have a detailed answer to a complex problem is almost always the more honest man.


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