News

Toomey eyes reviving gun background check legislation

Written by Marc Levy/Associated Press | Feb 21, 2018 1:47 PM
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Photo by Ben Allen/witf


(Harrisburg) -- Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said Wednesday that he will probably reintroduce legislation to expand background checks on gun purchases, his signature legislation that has failed at least twice in the Senate, but that it may require changes to pass.

Toomey said he has not discussed the bill with President Donald Trump, and said he will get a better sense of how many senators support it when the Republican-controlled chamber returns to session next week.

The bill never exceeded 54 votes, short of the 60 necessary, and Toomey said his highest priority is to see if he can increase its backers in the chamber.

"It might take some tweaks to the legislation and I would be open to that because I do think it is reasonable to require a background check on commercial gun sales," Toomey said during a news conference in the Pennsylvania Capitol.

It would require background checks for all gun purchases online and at gun shows. Currently, the checks are only required for transactions from licensed gun dealers.

While gun-rights groups and most Republicans opposed the bill, previous versions of it also carried provisions backed by gun-rights groups, but opposed by groups seeking tighter gun laws.

For Toomey, finding compromise on gun control became something of a signature issue in his first term.

The bill first emerged with backing from Toomey and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia following the 2012 slaying of 26 children and adults in Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School. It failed then and at least one more time after that.

Toomey opposes broader restrictions, such as limits on magazine size and bans on certain kinds of semi-automatic rifles.

Toomey said he supports putting similar restrictions on sales of rapid-fire bump stocks that already are on fully automatic firearms. He also wants to increase the prosecution of people -- such as convicted felons -- who lie on a federal firearms background check application.

Toomey said he continued to support legislation that would not allow people on no-fly lists to buy guns. But a bill he introduced in 2016, as well as competing bills, failed to win passage in the Senate that year amid disagreements largely along party lines.

An earlier story appears below. 

(Harrisburg) -- Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania says he'll probably reintroduce legislation to expand background checks on gun purchases, but that it may require changes to do so.

Toomey said Wednesday he'll have a better sense next week of how many senators support it when the Senate returns to session.

The bill first emerged with backing from Toomey and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia following the 2012 slaying of 26 children and adults in Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It failed then and at least one more time since.

The bill never exceeded 54 votes, short of the 60 necessary. It would require background checks for all gun purchases online and at gun shows.

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