U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey renewed his call for a universal background check for gun purchasers just days after 31 people died in two separate mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.
Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, said on Twitter that he and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, spoke separately with President Donald Trump about a bipartisan push that Toomey said would “keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the dangerously mentally ill, and terrorists while respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners and all Americans.”
“The president showed a willingness to work with us on the issue of strengthening background checks,” Toomey said.
Toomey and Manchin first proposed an amendment that would expand background checks in 2013 in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting where 20 children and seven adults were killed by a lone gunman. Sixty votes were needed to approve the proposed amendment but it was defeated by a 54-46 vote. The bill failed again in 2015.
“I think we need Manchin-Toomey,” Toomey told the New York Times. “I think it’s overdue. This is a common-sense, very broadly supported measure that would fully respect the rights of law-abiding citizens, fully respect the Second Amendment.”
Toomey also said he would support a “red flag” measure proposed by Sen. Lindsey Graham. The bill would allow law enforcement to take away firearms from someone deemed mentally unstable of potentially violent by a judge.
Despite his statements, Toomey is still playing in to the hands of the National Rifle Association, according to a statement from the Pennsylvania Democrats.
“Pat Toomey doesn’t deserve accolades for simply backing a politically smart policy that over 92% of Americans approve while refusing to support a ban on military-grade weapons and extended magazines that are leaving hundreds of Americans dead a year,” said Beth Melena, senior communications advisor for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party in a statement. “Pat Toomey will be the first person to line up to support a policy that polls well, but when it comes down to actually protecting the lives of Pennsylvanians, he’s happy to sit on the sidelines.”
Sen Bob Casey, D-Pa., called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans to “confront gun violence or get out of the way,” on his Twitter feed.
“This problem is a uniquely American problem,” Casey said on Twitter on Aug. 6. “This is a problem we will not surrender to. We will keep fighting, keep marching and keep voting until we get change.”
No action is expected soon as Congress is in its summer recess and with the House and Senate expected to return on Sept. 9.