Senator Writes Letter To Victim’s Mother, Votes Down Background Checks Anyway

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona sent a handwritten note to the mother of a shooting victim expressing sadness over her son’s death and assuring her that strengthening background checks was something they agreed on. Then when the issue of expanding background checks came before the Senate last Wednesday, Flake chose to vote against it.

Caren Teves lost her son during a mass shooting within a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado over the summer. She wrote a letter to Senator Flake inviting him over to her home to sit in her son’s chair and feel the emptiness, followed by dinner and a discussion of guns. Flake’s response, available below, reads (bolding added for emphasis):

“Dear Ms. Teves,

I wanted to apologize for the fact that you received a form letter from my office in response to your heartfelt note. I regret that you received an impersonal response to such personal words.

I am truly sorry for your deep loss. Your son’s actions were truly heroic.

I read your letter. While we may not agree on many solutions, strengthening background checks is something we agree on.

Your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Thank you for your note.

Kind regards,

Jeff Flake”

After raising Teves’s hopes, Flake chose to vote against a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks. The amendment, brought forward by Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, would have expanded background checks to cover sales at gun shows and online. What was Flake’s reason for opposing background checks?

“I think a lot of us had real issues with the Manchin-Toomey approach,” Flake said on Fox News the next day. “In my case, I thought it encroached into private sales too much. It’s not that Republicans don’t want to do something on this. Most of us do. I think all of us do. That wasn’t the right approach.”

The problem? Politico reports that the Manchin-Toomey approach explicitly left private person-to-person sales alone. Sure, I didn’t read all of the Manchin-Toomey background checks bill to find out for myself, but one would think Senator Flake should.

Flake background checks letter

[Featured image via Gage Skidmore [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

[Letter via ThinkProgress]