Parrots! Each and every time there is a mass shooting in our country, our lawmakers sound like parrots. First they offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers, which are meaningless without action.
Then, because they are owned by the gun lobby, they oppose common-sense gun safety legislation that helps keep firearms out of dangerous hands. They use their, loud parrot voices and say, "We should enforce the laws already on the books," Or, "The problem is mental illness, not guns."
Exactly what I heard after I witnessed six people dead and Congresswoman Gabby Giffords nearly dead with a bullet in her head at her Congress on Your Corner event in Tuscon. Because two good guys without guns tackled the shooter, I was able to take a loaded magazine from his hand.
Our Senator is a pro at those tropes. U.S. Senator Jeff Flake continues to hide behind gun lobby talking points in a cowardly effort to justify his votes against common-sense gun safety laws. Flake displayed his hypocrisy, and his loyalty to the gun lobby, yet again with his vote last month to weaken enforcement of existing laws aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of people with severe mental illnesses that are danger to self or others.
I say: Shame on Senator Flake; shame on you.
In December 2016, President Obama finalized a rule to improve enforcement of existing laws to keep guns out of the hands of people with severe mental illness who are already prohibited from having guns.
Under that rule, the Social Security Administration would submit records into the national background check system for recipients who are prohibited from possessing guns due to severe mental illness. Before the rule was put in place, those records were missing from the background check system. The rule didn't change who is allowed to buy guns in our country – but it did fix the reporting of records for people who were already legally prohibited from owning guns.
Just recently, U.S. Senators including Jeff Flake brazenly voted to repeal this rule – and President Trump signed the repeal making new law this week. This legislation weakens the ability to keep guns out of dangerous hands and widens the loophole that makes it easy for dangerous people to buy guns in our country.
Senator Flake should be ashamed. On the one hand, he crows about enforcing existing laws and addressing mental health instead of guns – yet he voted to repeal an existing law that did just that. He has helped undermine the enforcement process and mental health issues he has previously claimed to support.
Just two months after the Sandy Hook shooting where 26 were murdered by a man with firearms, Senator Flake said, "We need more effective and broader background checks." And he subsequently claimed, "...(W)e need to strengthen the background check system, particularly when it comes to the mentally ill."
Concerned Arizonans and gun violence survivors like me shake our heads and ask ourselves: Whose side is Senator Flake on? The gun lobby's or ours?
Senator Flake's true colors will come shining thru in the coming months as National Rifle Association lobbyists push to lift restrictions on firearm silencers and advance their top policy priority – making it legal for dangerous people to carry concealed, loaded weapons everywhere.
As an Arizonan, a gun violence survivor and a volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, I'm ashamed of the way Flake is voting in Congress.
I say, Senator Flake, will you finally show some courage by standing up for safety and standing up to the leadership of the National Rifle Association as it seeks to further advance a dangerous agenda of more guns for anyone, anywhere – no questions asked?
Patricia Maisch survived the 2011 mass shooting at Congresswoman Giffords' Congress on Your Corner event in Tucson and helped disarm the shooter. She is a resident of Tucson.