Gun violence victims demand meeting with Flake

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX (AP) -- An Arizona woman injured in the Tucson shooting that wounded Gabrielle Giffords and a mother whose son was killed in last year's movie theater shooting in Colorado demanded a meeting Thursday with Republican Sen. Jeff Flake over his vote against gun control legislation.

Caren Teves, whose son was killed last summer in the mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., said she invited Flake to dinner to sit in her son's empty chair. He replied with a handwritten note affirming his support for expanded gun control measures.

"I am confused and would like an answer," Teves said. "I would like Sen. Flake to look me in the eye and tell me why he ignored me."

Teves said Flake hasn't responded to multiple emails and phone calls from her and her husband, but she remains determined.

"I want him to look at a mother in the eye who has lost a child. I want him to acknowledge the pain," she said. "I am not going away. I am not giving up."

Flake has said he supports expanded background checks but voted against the measure that would have done just that because it would have expanded the checks to cover some private gun sales between family members and friends. It fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate.

Since the vote last month, Flake has declined to meet with gun violence victims who have pledged to regularly protest at his Phoenix office until they get a response. A spokesman for Flake did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

In Phoenix, gun control activists have lost some steam in the days since the vote. There were more than 50 people protesting outside Flake's office immediately after the bill failed. The gun violence victims and roughly 20 other activists rallied outside Flake's Phoenix office Thursday morning. They waved signs reading "I have not forgotten Tucson, Aurora or Newtown" and "Gabby deserves better."

Flake is close friends with former Rep. Giffords, who was the target of the mass shooting in Tucson in 2011. Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, had lobbied Flake and other Republicans to pass the gun control measure.

Mary Reed was shot three times while shielding her 17-year-old daughter during the shooting in Tucson. She said Flake needs to get to know the victims of gun violence to understand why passing stricter gun control laws has become such a popular rallying cry.

"Please, our children are dying," she said. "Please, do the right thing."

Gun violence victims in other states are also lobbying lawmakers to change their position on gun control. In New Hampshire, a woman whose mother was killed in last year's school shooting in Newtown, Conn., confronted Sen. Kelly Ayotte Tuesday during the senator's first public appearance in her district since voting against gun control legislation.

Meanwhile, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a pro-gun group in Newtown, is running radio ads in New Hampshire, Arizona, Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky and North Dakota to thank senators like Flake and Ayotte who blocked the gun control legislation.

"We think it's important that gun owners take a minute to call their senator and thank them," said Lawrence G. Keane, general counsel for the group. "These senators who are the topic of the ad, they all voted, in our mind, the way we would have urged them and did urge them to do."