Mark Kelly: Americans for Responsible Solutions will replace Sen. Jeff Flake

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Mark Kelly, husband of former US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, says the gun-control organization the couple has founded will work to defeat Sen. Jeff Flake (R) in the next election if the Arizona senator votes against expanding background checks to include more gun buyers. The Christian Science Monitor reports, Mark Kelly on gun control bill: 'We do have a problem' with many senators:

Mr. Kelly, a retired Navy captain and astronaut, said Senator Flake is “a good friend” of Ms. Giffords. But he gave this warning Tuesday at a Monitor-hosted breakfast with reporters: “If there was the right candidate out there and he [Flake] didn’t support this legislation,… you know friendship is one thing … saving people’s lives, especially first-graders', is another.” 

On Monday, Flake posted on Facebook a statement that he will oppose the bipartisan legislation on background checks drafted by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The measure “simply goes too far,” Flake said.

Kelly criticized Flake's action.

“Senator Flake’s timing for his posting to his Facebook was not ideal in my opinion,” he said. On Tuesday afternoon, Flake [was] slated to join Giffords and Kelly, along with Vice President Joseph Biden and House Speaker John Boehner, to dedicate a room in the House in honor of Gabriel Zimmerman. He was a member of Giffords's staff and was killed in the attack that gravely wounded her in January 2011.

The warning to Flake from the cofounder of Americans for Responsible Solutions comes amid reports that prospects are dimming for new gun-control legislation. Republican opposition to expanded background checks is growing in the Senate, “enough to put the proposal’s fate in jeopardy.”

Kelly, whose comments can be see on C-SPAN [http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/MarkKe(Comments from 10:30 mark to 13:00 mark)], said he is “optimistic that we can get something passed.” But he conceded that “we do have a problem with a lot of United States senators with regards to this bill.” He added: “There are a lot of US senators that are just looking for a reason to get to no. And I experienced this personally last night when I was shown the Facebook posting of Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, Gabby’s good friend.”

The Arizona Republic reported that Flake spent considerable time at the hospital so he could help when Giffords was wounded and Kelly thanked him in the book he co-wrote with Giffords. As The Huffington Post notes, Flake sat with Giffords during her appearance at the 2013 State of the Union message in February.

Adopting a carrot-and-stick approach, Kelly said that he sees Flake “as a reasonable person and that when I explain to him in person why his concerns with this bill are unfounded, I think we can get him to come around.”

* * *

Kelly said he has recently sold his home in Texas and is registered to vote in Arizona. Kelly said he had not “given any thought” to running for office himself. “Gabby and I want to help in solving this problem and that is our No. 1 priority,” he said.

The Arizona Republic today reported Mark Kelly threatens to replace Sen. Jeff Flake in 2018 election:

Flake said he supports background checks even though he opposes the Manchin-Toomey bill.

“In fact, I believe background checks need to be strengthened, particularly as they relate to those with mental illness,” Flake wrote on his Facebook page.

Flake said he is co-sponsoring a different measure, Senate Bill 480, that aims to improve the system of keeping records on mentally ill people to keep them from obtaining firearms.

“I believe our approach is preferable and more workable,” he said.

But the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns says Flake’s bill would undermine an existing law that blocks anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital from buying or owning guns. Under the proposed legislation, those individuals would be able to buy and own a gun immediately after they have been released, a group spokesman said.

The Senate will vote on the Manchin-Toomey background checks bill TODAY at 4:00 p.m. EST. Americans For Responsible Solutions has sent this action alert e-mail:

We won't waste any time getting to the point.

The U.S. Senate is set to vote on expanding background checks and other legislation to reduce gun violence today at 4pm Eastern.

The truth is that as of right now, it's very close, but we don't have the votes. That's why it's so critical you make your voice heard in the next few hours.

Dial 1-888-284-5479 and call your Senators today, or you can use our calling tool to connect online.

http://action.americansforresponsiblesolutions.org/vote-today

We've been going from office to office this week imploring Senators to do the right thing later today — to stand with 90% of Americans who support expanding background checks for gun purchases.

Now it's up to them.

Make your voice heard and tell your Senators that this vote matters to you, and you look forward to seeing which way they vote.

We'll be in touch,

Gabby and Mark

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