Fresh off a tough re-election campaign where he gained support from gun control groups, Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey signaled he was ready to give his old bipartisan background check bill a fresh look.
On the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting Wednesday, Toomey said he looks forward to working with Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, on the eponymous background check bill they proposed in 2013 as a response to the tragedy.
“It was a terrible day for our country, and meeting some of the families of the victims was one of the most moving moments in my Senate career,” he said in a statement. “These senseless killings also inspired me to work across the aisle on common sense gun safety legislation that upholds the Second Amendment while also making it harder for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to purchase a firearm.”
The original 2013 proposal would have expanded background checks to cover sales between private parties that occur over the Internet and at gun shows. In the end, it failed in the Senate by a 54-46 vote. This led to condemnation from President Obama who at the time said Republicans and the National Rifle Association had “willfully lied” about the sweep of the legislation.
Gun rights advocates feared the bill would create a national registry the government could use to track gun buyers, though that claim has been disputed by fact-checkers who noted the bill’s language contained a provision expressly prohibiting a registry.
Now, with Republicans down to an even narrower 52-seat control of the chamber and one of the Democrats who voted against the original measure, Nevada’s Harry Reid, replaced by a new lawmaker who is “F” rated by the NRA, a Manchin-Toomey redux may garner enough votes to reach a simple majority.
Toomey, who picked up a mild “C” rating from the NRA, is returning to Washington after a hard-fought re-election that saw lots of money from gun control groups.
Toomey’s campaign committee raised over $31 million in contributions to get re-elected — which blows the average of $3.7 million per senate member out of the water — and nearly doubled the $17 million he had access to during his 2010 Senate run. By comparison, his Democratic challenger, Katie McGinty, only amassed $14 million this election cycle.
Toomey’s campaign was bolstered with support from Michael Bloomberg in the form of $5.8 million spent through the former New York Mayor’s Independence USA PAC.
Any bill would have to pick up 60 votes in the Senate to avoid death by filibuster then go on to run the gauntlet of House concurrence and earn a signature from President Trump to become law.
Trump’s Second Amendment platform dedicates a paragraph to background checks, citing the current system is flawed, and, “What we don’t need to do is expand a broken system.”