proposed laws

PA Bill Number: HB2775

Title: In inchoate crimes, further providing for possession of firearm or other dangerous weapon in court facility; in firearms and other dangerous ...

Description: In inchoate crimes, further providing for possession of firearm or other dangerous weapon in court facility; in firearms and other dangerous ... ...

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Last Action Date: Aug 16, 2022

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Sen. Pat Toomey Working With Gun-Control Group Everytown :: 06/17/2016

Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican up for re-election this year, is working with Everytown for Gun Safety on an effort to restrict suspected terrorists’ access to weapons, the first indication that a bipartisan legislative compromise could emerge in response to the Orlando, Fla., mass shooting.

An Everytown official confirmed Wednesday that Mr. Toomey is working with the gun violence prevention group, which was founded in part by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has made gun safety a signature issue.

The collaboration with Mr. Toomey, who has crossed party lines before on high-profile gun-control legislation, has the potential to loosen the largely partisan deadlock that has gripped the Senate for months over how to prevent known or suspected terrorists from obtaining firearms.

Democrats and Republicans clashed late last year over dueling proposals on how to restrict gun access for those on terror watch lists in the wake of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooting.

Following Sunday’s massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, lawmakers had said they hoped to find a bipartisan compromise, but there had been little evidence until Wednesday of any negotiations and the issue quickly flared up in tight Senate races.

Mr. Toomey said on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon that he was talking to lawmakers from both parties about finding a compromise between the Democratic and GOP proposals.

“There’s an obvious opportunity here, guys, to work together and find a solution,” Mr. Toomey said. He was the only Republican given permission to speak during a Democratic filibuster aimed at denouncing congressional inaction on legislation to tighten access to guns.

Mr. Toomey has been a key figure in bipartisan efforts to tighten gun access laws before. In 2013, he partnered with Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) on legislation to expand background checks on gun purchasers. That bill stalled in the Senate, six votes shy of the 60 it needed to advance.

A fiscal conservative, Mr. Toomey has made his work on background checks a key part of his centrist appeal in his Senate race against Democratic nominee Katie McGinty, who criticized him Tuesday for opposing Democratic efforts to restrict suspected terrorists’ access to guns.

“It’s only now, when his political future is in jeopardy from bad headlines and mounting criticism that he will even consider how we can make it harder for potential terrorists to buy guns,” said Sean Coit, spokesman for Ms. McGinty. “Senator Toomey is making a political calculation, not a principled stand.”

Everytown has supported a bill from Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) that would give the Justice Department authority to prevent a known or suspected terrorist from buying firearms or explosives if authorities have a reasonable belief the weapon could be used in connection with terrorism. Someone who meets that criteria is likely to be on one of the federal terrorism watch lists, including the no-fly list. All but one Republican, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, opposed the measure when the Senate voted on it in December.

Republicans have said they worry that Ms. Feinstein’s bill makes it too hard for someone erroneously put on a terror watch list to challenge that decision and obtain a gun. Mr. Toomey said Tuesday that the appeals process included in the Democratic bill was inadequate.

GOP lawmakers have instead largely unified behind a rival measure from Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) that would notify the Justice Department if someone on one of the terror watch lists tries to purchase a gun. A special court proceeding would be triggered in which the Justice Department would have 72 hours to investigate the individual.

A judge could block the purchase if the government can demonstrate there is probable cause to believe the weapon would be used in connection with terrorism, GOP aides said. Mr. Cornyn’s bill would also give the Justice Department the authority to immediately take the prospective purchaser into custody.

Democrats have said the burden of proof under the Cornyn legislation is too high.

Mr. Toomey said he hoped to find a compromise between the two measures.

“What I think we need to do here is do everything we can to make sure terrorists are not able to buy guns,” Mr. Toomey said. “But we also need to have a meaningful mechanism for people to challenge their status of being on that list. That’s what we haven’t put together here.”