Toomey revives "common sense" gun reform proposal following Pittsburgh synagogue shooting
WASHINGTON, D.C. - “Common sense” gun reform.
That’s what U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is calling his latest proposal to prevent, or at least reduce, future mass shootings such as the one at a Pittsburgh synagogue last month.
Toomey’s proposal would require a full background check for the purchase of a firearm through a commercial sale both online and in-person at a store or a gun show.
The key word is commercial. The proposal wouldn’t require a background check if a parent sold a gun to their child, for example, Toomey said.
In the aftermath of the Parkland, Fla. school shooting in February, a poll by National Public Radio found 94 percent of Americans supported "requiring background checks for all gun buyers."
The proposal is similar to Toomey’s 2013 legislation he co-sponsored with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat. The legislation has become colloquially known as the "Manchin-Toomey amendment." Toomey said he’s in talks with Manchin about working together again. Both are 2ndamendment supporters, but have called for some reform in the past.
Toomey and Manchin tried to revive the legislation earlier this year, but Senate Republicans failed to get behind the measure. But starting in January, Democrats (who traditionally support gun control legislation) will lead the House, so Toomey is hoping for some sort of bipartisan deal, to get it done.
“The idea is real simple: if you’re a violent criminal or you’re dangerously mentally-ill, then you shouldn’t have a firearm,” Toomey said during an interview with Erie News Now. “It’s a reasonable thing to do a several-minute background check to see if you’re in one of those categories.”
More than 15,500 Americans died from gun violence – excluding most suicide data – in 2017, according to the non-profit group Gun Violence Archive.
Toomey’s latest proposal comes after 11 people were killed, 6 others injured in a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October. The goal is to reduce the likelihood of mass shootings, he said, and to honor the lives of those killed in Pittsburgh.
Pennsylvania’s senior U.S. Senator, Bob Casey, supports gun reform as well. He wants to go a little further, banning military-style assault weapons and limiting high-capacity magazines. Fresh off of winning a third-term in the Senate in last week’s election, Casey took to the Senate floor Thursday pleading more support to curb future deadly gun crimes.
“I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the American people to surrender… to this problem, to surrender to this uniquely American problem,” Casey said.
Toomey expects to introduce this legislation when the 116thcongress formally convenes in January.
The big question: will enough Senate Republicans – including some newly-elected Senators – support his measure this time around?
“That’s the open question,” Toomey said. “That’s what we’re going to find out.”