Brinkley: Sen. Flake, the 1st Amendment comes before the 2nd Amendment - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

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Brinkley: Sen. Flake, the 1st Amendment comes before the 2nd Amendment

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Posted: Sunday, May 12, 2013 4:58 pm

When my wife and I tried to park in the designated visitor parking area at Sen. Jeff Flake’s Phoenix office recently, we were told by security to leave or our car would be towed. When we questioned this, as we were there to join with others to hold him accountable for his vote against universal background checks for gun purchases, we were told parking there was for office tenants only. As we were pulling out of the parking lot, security people began blocking all entrances to the parking lot with pick-up trucks and chains.

Sen. Flake seems so concerned about convenience in exercising the Second Amendment, but he evidently doesn’t mind at all making it difficult for law-abiding citizens to exercise First Amendment rights to assemble peaceably and petition our government. Our tax dollars pay for the rent on his office, where Flake hides behind keypad access security doors, bullet-proof glass and now security cordons around his office parking lot. Sen. Flake does not feel a need to directly answer victims of gun violence specifically or the people of Arizona generally for voting against expanded background checks for gun purchasers. Credible, scientifically conducted polls show that between 70 and 90 percent of Arizonans support that common sense measure. Flake certainly has no problem making it harder to exercise First Amendment rights, but he won’t vote to make it harder for criminals, terrorists, and the mentally ill to purchase guns.

His plummeting approval ratings likely motivated his obstruction of our rally, a move he finds much easier than returning his $360,000 cut of gun selling profits received in campaign funding support and reversing his quid pro quo to the National Rifle Association and gun lobby by voting instead for our collective public safety interests.

Expanded background checks are fully constitutional as our much braver Sen. John McCain pointed out on the Senate floor when he voted for them. Arizonans are proud of Sen. McCain because he voted to put our collective interests ahead of gun industry profits. McCain also doesn’t hide in his office, and welcomes those of us exercising our First Amendment rights. A few weeks ago, he came out of his office spontaneously to thank rally participants without any security entourage whatsoever.

We are waiting for Sen. Flake to do the right thing. We will keep visiting him … even if he has office security put up barricades.

• Ahwatukee resident Bryan L. Brinkley is secretary of Arizona People Acting for a Safer Society (AZ PASS). For more information, visit

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