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Jeff Flake has a new explanation for why he opposed expanding background checks for gun purchases last month:
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."
According to Flake, if his concerns are addressed in the future, he would reconsider his vote. The problem, though, is that his explanation for his vote against the legislation misrepresents the facts of what actually happened.
The text of the legislation that Flake voted against specifically exempted friends and family from expanded background checks unless the transfer was "pursuant to an advertisement, posting, display, or other listing on the Internet."
Clearly, texts and emails among friends do not qualify by that definition. Facebook is a little more complicated because of the various privacy settings, but while Facebook posts intended for public consumption probably would (and should) qualify for expanded background checks, private messages among friends and family clearly would not.
Don't take my word for it, either. Before he cast his vote, Jeff Flake explained why he was going to vote against it:
Manchin-Toomey would expand background checks far beyond commercial sales to include almost all private transfers – including between friends and neighbors -- if the posting or display of the ad for a firearm was made public.
So in Flake's own words—before things blew up in his face—Manchin-Toomey wasn't about requiring background checks for transfers that resulted from private communications among friends. It was for public posts and ads—thinks like paid advertisements or listings on Craigslist, but not private emails and texts among friends.
But now that Flake realizes his vote has put his favorable rating "below pond scum," he's making stuff up to explain his opposition. Flake says he might be willing to change his vote of Manchin and Toomey water down their legislation further, but given that his demands are based dishonest reading of the legislation, there's no reason to take his offer seriously.
Originally posted to The Jed Report on Tue May 07, 2013 at 10:57 AM PDT.