proposed laws

PA Bill Number: HB2819

Title: In sentencing, providing for sentences for persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms.

Description: In sentencing, providing for sentences for persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms. ...

Last Action: Referred to JUDICIARY

Last Action Date: Oct 6, 2022

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Tree of Life shooting inspires renewed push by Sen. Toomey to close gun show loophole :: 11/14/2018

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey hopes the slaughter of 11 adults in a Pittsburgh synagogue will do what the massacres of 20 first-graders in Connecticut, 58 concert-goers in Nevada, and 49 nightclub patrons in Florida could not: persuade Congress to expand background checks for gun purchases.

The Pennsylvania Republican wants the federal government to mandate what many states already require – background checks for people who buy guns online or at gun shows. Current law requires background checks only for purchases from licensed gun dealers.

“I know there are strongly held views on the Second Amendment, and I’m one of those senators who has strongly held views on the Second Amendment, but I’m also convinced there is common ground among people who have differing views on the Second Amendment,” he said in Senate floor speech Wednesday.

The National Rifle Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but has opposed the measure in the past.

Mr. Toomey said lawmakers already agree that criminals and mentally ill people with a history of violence should not be able to legally buy firearms. They proved that earlier this year when they authorized improvements to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is used to clear firearms purchasers, he said.

“Since we all accept the premise of the NICS system and we have enacted legislation to improve the effectiveness of the NICS system, shouldn’t we also close the remaining loopholes?” Mr. Toomey asked his fellow senators.

“It’s our duty, and it would be a fitting act of remembrance of mass shootings at Tree of Life, Thousand Oaks, Sandy Hook, and all the others whose deaths from gun violence have scarred our country,” he said Wednesday.

The speech began his third hard push for the legislation he and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, introduced nearly six years ago after 20 children and six teachers were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The legislation had such widespread bipartisan support that the Senate visitors gallery was full of Sandy Hook families. They wanted to be there for an approval that never happened.

The measure failed by a thin margin and the two discouraged senators moved on to other legislation while mass shootings continued to occur. There was Washington Navy Yard just a few miles from the U.S. Capitol. There was Umpqua Community College in Oregon. There was the San Bernardino Inland Regional Center in California.

Mr. Toomey has consistently said that he’s never stopped looking for a way to get the 60 votes required for the measure to pass the Senate, but he did pause his public push – at least for a while.

He found his voice again in February when 17 were shot to death at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Again, he took to the floor to plead his case, but other lawmakers wanted President Donald Trump’s support to move forward.

Mr. Trump had praised the background check expansion effort but publicly criticized the senators for being “afraid of the NRA” because their proposal wouldn’t raise age requirements for firearms purchases, which the gun-rights group opposed.

The plan Mr. Toomey stumped for on Wednesday still doesn’t change age restrictions, although he has indicated he is open to compromise.

“This is just a commonsense measure that is entirely consistent and compatible with the Second Amendment,” he said.

Investigators have not said where the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter acquired his weapons, so it is unclear whether the background check expansion would have made a difference at Tree of Life.

Washington Bureau Chief Tracie Mauriello:; 703-996-9292 or on Twitter @pgPoliTweets.