Former astronaut Mark Kelly indicated this morning he’d throw under the bus a good friend of his wife’s, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), if he didn’t vote their way on gun control.
Flake sat next to Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) and helped her to her feet every time she wanted to join in a standing ovation for President Obama at the 2012 State of the Union. When Giffords stepped down from Congress the next day, Flake stood by her side and held her hand.
But that friendship appeared to have little meaning to Kelly this morning as he spoke at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast.
Flake voted for cloture last week to begin debate on the gun-control bill. Yesterday, he posted a statement on his Facebook page saying he would oppose the background check amendment being offered by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
“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. It would likely even extend to message boards, like the one in an office kitchen. This simply goes too far,” Flake said.
“I support background checks. In fact, I believe background checks need to be strengthened, particularly as they relate to those with mental illness. To this end I’ve cosponsored S.480 with Senators Graham, Begich, and Pryor clarifying who should not be able to obtain a firearm due to mental illness. I believe our approach is preferable, and more workable, than the mental illness provisions in Manchin-Toomey,” the senator continued.
Kelly acknowledged Flake is a “good friend” of Giffords, but said they would both work to oust Flake from office if he votes against the background-check compromise.
“If there was the right candidate out there and [Flake] didn’t support this legislation, … you know friendship is one thing … saving people’s lives, especially first-graders’, is another,” Kelly told reporters.
“Senator Flake’s timing for his posting to his Facebook was not ideal in my opinion,” he added.
Kelly and Giffords started a PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions, this year to push for gun control.
“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,” Kelly said, adding “when I explain to him in person why his concerns with this bill are unfounded, I think we can get him to come around.”