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Senator Pat Toomey says the Senate is as close as it's ever been to gun legislation. Only time will tell. Photos: AL DÍA Archives (left), Pixabay (right)
Senator Pat Toomey says the Senate is as close as it's ever been to gun legislation. Only time will tell. Photos: AL DÍA Archives (left), Pixabay (right)

Senator Pat Toomey says gun legislation is closer than ever, as protestors die-in at his Philly office

The optimism felt by the PA congressman does not extend to some of his constituents.

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In a June 5, 2022 appearance on CBS News’ Face the Nation, PA Senator Pat Toomey said the Senate was closer than it’s ever been in his time there to having a deal on some tighter gun legislation.

He didn’t guarantee a deal, but did point to expanding background checks as one of the potential measures that would be included in an eventual bill to pass.

“I just think it makes sense. We all agree that violent criminals and deranged dangerously mentally ill people shouldn't have firearms. So we need a mechanism to increase the likelihood that will identify such a person and prevent them from buying a gun legally,” he said.

It’s also a measure Toomey has pushed on three occasions in the past alongside Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. 

The initial effort started in the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre that left 20 children and eight adult staffers dead at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. It resulted in the 2013 background check legislation known as the Toomey-Manchin Amendment, but was rejected by the Senate despite getting the support of four Republicans. The bill also fell after reintroductions in 2015 and 2016.

In 2022, after the string of mass shootings in Buffalo, Laguna Woods, Uvalde and Philadelphia (to name some) over the last month, Toomey is now one of six Republicans working with a group of Democrats led by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy to come to a consensus.

While more than in previous years to support any kind of measure tightening gun access, the group must also get four more Republicans on board to avoid a filibuster.

On Face The Nation, Toomey said he hopes to get “at least half the Republican conference” behind the eventual legislation. 

However, the initial group must still come to its own consensus before finding any to join in and support.

In a later appearance on Fox News, Toomey said he hoped negotiators would have a framework to go off of by the end of this week, but still kept a vague, uncertain messaging about future legislation.

“This is a moving target, if you will, we're still in discussions, and we are still trying to figure out exactly what mechanism is going to enable us to get the votes that we would need,” he said on Face The Nation.

Two days after Toomey’s appearance on national television and three days after a mass shooting on South Street in Philadelphia that left three dead and 11 injured, the group Tuesdays With Toomey staged a ‘die-in’ in front of the senator’s Philadelphia office at 2nd and Chestnut Streets.

Die-ins have long been used by protestors to bring light to a number of issues — war, AIDS, human rights and racism, to name a few — but they’ve mostly been used in the last couple of years in Philadelphia to decry the record gun violence homicides being experienced by the city.

Those gathered on Tuesday, June 7 at Toomey’s office said that while the senator “talks a big game” about gun reform on Capitol Hill, the Toomey-Manchin effort and others like it are “all hot air.”

To prove their point, one of the speakers read an excerpt from a secret recording of a gun lobbyist in 2013 that called the Toomey-Manchin effort “a Christmas tree,” given how negotiators supposedly got more pro-gun measures than restrictions in the legislation.

“We just hung a million ornaments on it,” said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Bear and Keep Arms and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation. 

The legislation being talked about today is supposedly even more watered down than that previous effort, but only time will tell if it will also become a Christmas tree too.

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