Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Monday, October 24, 2016

The prospects for expanding gun sale background checks have brightened significantly with the news that conservative senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) is now working on a bipartisan compromise.

The Washington Post reported over the weekend that Senator Toomey is now negotiating a background check deal with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). Manchin, who is one of just six Democratic senators with an “A” grade from the National Rifle Association, has been desperately seeking Republican support for new gun safety regulations since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December.

According to the Post, “Manchin and Toomey are developing a measure to require background checks for all gun purchases except sales between close family members and some hunters.” The effort builds on Manchin’s previous negotiations with Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), which broke down due to Coburn’s insistence that a background check deal could not include any paper record of the sale — a deal-breaker for Senate Democrats.

Toomey’s support would be a major boost for any bill that seeks to strengthen gun safety laws. Several Senate Republicans — including right-wing favorites Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) — have vowed to filibuster any attempts to bring gun reform legislation to the floor, meaning that 60 votes will likely be necessary to pass any bill. Toomey, who is a former president of the Club for Growth and is consistently rated as one of the most conservative members of the Senate, would provide significant political cover for Republicans to support expanded background checks.

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) is the only other Republican to publicly push for a major expansion of gun sale background checks.

As Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan point out at The Fix, Toomey has good reason to push for a background check deal. The deeply conservative senator will be up for re-election in solidly blue Pennsylvania in 2016, and some bipartisan credentials could go a long way in what will likely be a difficult race. Expanding gun sale background checks, which is supported by about 90 percent of Americans, would be a good place to start.

Toomey wasn’t the only Republican trying to push gun reform forward over the weekend. Senator John McCain blasted his Republican colleagues’ filibuster plan on CBS’ Face The Nation Sunday, echoing President Barack Obama’s declaration that the victims of gun violence “deserve a vote.

“I don’t understand it,” Senator McCain said of the filibuster plan. “The purpose of the United States Senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand.”

“Why not take it up and amend it and debate? The American people would profit from it. I don’t understand why United States senators want to block debate when the leader has said we can have amendments,” McCain added.

Although McCain opposes a filibuster, he has declined to say whether or not he would support a gun reform bill including background checks.

Despite the positive signals coming from the Senate, gun reform efforts still face an uphill battle. In order to pass a background check bill through the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) would almost certainly have to violate the “Hastert Rule” (which dictates that the Speaker should not allow a vote on any bill unless it is supported by a majority of the majority party.) So far, Boehner has shown no indication that he would be willing to do so.

As the Senate continues to negotiate a gun deal behind closed doors, President Obama is continuing to rally public support for reform. On Monday evening the president will return to Connecticut for the first time since the immediate aftermath of the Newtown shooting, to push for tougher gun laws in a speech at the University of Hartford.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • I always question their motives! Up for re-election…mmmmmmm

  • Jmz Warren-Nesky

    I don’t know what the big deal is.. Any sane person should see that a strong background check is necessary in order to determine many factors in buying and owning weapons, after all there’s mandatory background checks to get a job.. Why? For basically the same reasons (arguments) and included in job background checks are credit and often urine tests, what? Just to work at a clown burger? I think the rhetoric should be side lined as reasonable background checks should be a gimme. I’m not a gun owner so I don’t know exactly why otherwise sane people are fighting this in the fear that once passed could lead to total disarmament.. This could not happen unless the under lying root is a background check that would make absolutely no sense in doing. So, am I missing something in this continual heated discussion of whether we should crack down or allow anyone with a trigger finger to own and operate weapons? I’m genuinely concerned.

    • whodatbob

      Not being a gun owner, you have no fear of possibality lossing valuable property through government takeover. I am for more background checks. but understand the fear some have that this is a ploy to develope a national gun registry. It is a slippery slop theory.

      • DurdyDawg

        Of course I can understand that who, but if the feds wanted to do this they could easily infiltrate the www and get millions of inside data, even those who brag about owning certain hardware then take them from you covertly just like the C.I. of A. would do.. Your not going to stop them if that’s their intention, they will just go at it a different way and if that fails will simply twist the arms of those supreme court mimes and ‘gedder dun nohow’.. That’s the thing about paranoia, there’s so many opportunities to discover the conspiracies. If you think killing this bill will end the whole argument then your wrong, just as the polidicks lose their bill, they just change a few words then push it out again and if that fails will place it as a rider on an important bill that the nation needs so, your ‘valuable’ property is valuable only as long as nobody else wants it and right now the law is trying to make certain that only honest gun owners are in possession, after that if they want to try and take them from you then I would say they couldn’t do this unless you allowed them to through this stinking excuse called due process.

  • We need guns to ensure minimal gerrymandering and maximize the accessibility of ALL elections by ALL Americans.

    • Susan Dean

      Huh?? Are you planning to attack state legislatures to prevent gerrymandering and feeling the need to blast your way to a voting booth, killing or injuring everyone in your path? Of all the stupid “I must have a gun” arguments out there, this is by far the most ridiculous.

    • Independent1

      Alfred, are you being serious with your statement? Or were you trying to be facitious? Certainly, hopefully you are not entertaining thoughts of using guns to force the GOP into stopping their gerrymandering of election districts and voting in more laws that restrict voting. Although we need to do both of these in the 2014 elections, we need to do it via the ballot box – let’s hope that more and more red state folks start seeing the corrupt intentions of the GOP and decide that enough is enough and help vote these criminals out of office.

      • DurdyDawg

        Not only the GOP but every fool who sides against logic and focuses on political manipulations, and that accounts for both parties The Pubs having more such fools in their corner I’m thinking but still, there are Dems AND Independents (Dents) who seem to vote against even their own beliefs.. It’s a power/money game to these grubbers and nothing else matters. You can clearly distinguish these bottom feeders as they are the ones who consistently ignore or toss out any and all vows they declare in the oath of office each and every time their elected. I agree that we need to open our eyes and with intelligent intent vote these criminals out of office but let’s not over look the bad apples whom we have been told are our friends but in action has worked against that impression. We need to clean house, but not just the rooms that smell dirty but the entire house.

        • Independent1

          You’re right that there are many in Congress who put their political careers (concern about being reelected) above doing what I’m sure they know is really the right thing to do. For many of today’s Republicans (and it wasn’t always this way), their intentions are to do whatever it is they can to better the wealth of themselves and those that support their reelection – are today, virtually always voting for the preservation and enhancement of their own well being. What disappoints me the most, is that over the past 6 to 8 years, there are also some Democrats in Congress who have been acting exactly in the same way: having been voted in in districts that are right-leaning, they’re voting more to preserve their place in Congress than to do what they most know in their hearts would really be the right thing to better the lives of those who voted them into Congress. And it’s these Democrats who on several occasions have prevented the majority of Democrats from passing legislation that would truely be beneficial to the country. Voters definitely need to identify Congessional people, both in the House and Senate, that are voting with more concerned about their own and their promoters benefits, than trying to improve the well being of the majority of Americans which would clearly improve America for future generations.

    • charleo1

      Ironically, it is easier for a criminal, a deranged madman, or a cell of murderous
      terrorists, intent on killing as many infidels as possible, to buy as many Bush
      Masters, or AK 47s, with 100 round clips, full of armor piercing bullets. Anything
      they want! Than it is for many poor, or elderly citizens, many having fought for
      this Country. To obtain some of the specific kinds of photo ID, Republicans are
      now requiring of American citizens to have, before they may exercise their fundamental Right to vote. So, no. We don’t need guns to enforce Constitutional
      Rights in this Country. That’s what our courts are for. We need to elect people to
      serve in our governments, that believe in the idea of democracy, in the first place.

    • DurdyDawg

      What are you talking about Al? We need guns to minimize gerrymandering and insure all Americans will vote? How did that work last election? or the mid-terms last time, or the election before that? The only ones I heard protecting our rights and preventing fraud was the new black panthers and they weren’t actually toting guns AND the gerrymandering, fraud and politicrime resumed .. So, this time do you have the inclination to arm yourself and go hunting for political crime activities? Let me know so that I might delay the authorities from taking you down like Bonnie and Clyde.

  • docb


  • Yes why did you buy a bushmaster semiautomatic rifle? they are made to kill people, do you intend to kill kindergarten children or are hanging it on the wall so you will remember who it has killed?

  • jnsgraphic

    The Senate and Congress should be completely behind this nationwide… violence as a means to achieve an end is counterproductive. Unfortunately these crooks don’t give a rats patoot about gun control… the NRA and gun lobbyists have been financing these politicians and dictating policies for decades. As long as our Senators and House can be bought, its all about Money, Power & Greed. Background checks, licensin, registration and restrictions on sales of assault-style rifles are an initial, credible response to calls for better ‘Gun Control’. These are responsible measures that no law abiding citizen (gun owner or not) should feel their 2nd Amendment rights threatened by to bear arms to hunt, protect yourself, your family or your home. The NRAs scare tactics have persisted too long and as a result has led to the innocent deaths of men, women and children whose own sense of freedom was cut short by those obsessed with gun ownership in this country. Our civilized society has been falsely led to believe that if government restricts some guns and their enhanced capabilities to kill more people quicker, that we are somehow canceling out the 2nd amendment of the Constitution. Anything that makes it harder for criminals to arm themselves without greatly affecting the average law abiding citizen is worth it. PROUD TO BE FROM CT!

  • Independent1

    As the debate on gun control goes on, let’s all keep in mind that the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision on the 2nd Amendment makes it clear that the Obama administration’s recommendations on controlling gun sales and uses are all LIMITATIONS OR GUIDELINES THAT ARE WELL WITHIN THE CONSTITUTION None of the administrations recomendations are treading on the constitutional rights of gun owners despite what it seems that many gun fanatics misguidedly believe.

    Here’s a synopsis of the 2008 Supreme Courts decision on the 2nd Amendment:

    In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment “codified a pre-existing right” and that it “protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home”[9][10] but also stated that “the right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose”. They also clarified that many longstanding prohibitions and restrictions on firearms possession listed by the Court are consistent with the Second Amendment.[11]

  • RobertCHastings

    The Hastert Rule, you’ve go to be kidding. Dennis Hastert, a former wrestling coach and a former Republican Speaker of the House now calls out from his political graveyard to influence the gun-control discussion. Beware the slippery slope, Mr. Boehner, for all too soon you will be sliding down that slope on a trash can lid, like Chevy Chase in “Christmas Vacation”. There are two things you should remember 1)over 90% of your fellow Americans (including a lot who voted for you) are in favor of universal background checks, 2)this is not a money issue, so you can’t seek cover behind the Norquist pledge.

  • charleo1

    America had the opportunity to hear some of the parents that had lost their
    children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, on 60 minutes this last Sunday.
    One cannot easily describe that kind of pain. It’s hard to know if you’re
    crying for the children, their young lives so senselessly taken from them.
    Or the parents, who’s hearts are continuing to endlessly break, and you
    so want to take their pain, if only for a moment. Listening to a Mother,
    tell of talking to her child each night, and asking her little boy to visit
    her in her dreams. Because she is so desperate in her grief. But, the deed
    is done. And for these Mothers, and Fathers there will be no justice. Or,
    reason. Just the undeniable reality that it is, and it will always be. And,
    right now, that is just too empty, too unfair, and too hopeless, to accept.
    I heard President Obama say, “We deserve better than this.” As he once again
    pleaded for Congress to take a vote on the most minimal of efforts to keep at
    least some of these weapons out of the hands of the mentally insane, and
    violence prone. But, even as the President spoke, the minority in the Senate
    promised to filibuster. And so, even when 8 out of 10, or, 9 out of ten people
    think, for every gun sold, the individual who will control that gun, must be a
    responsible person, and have a record that reflects it. The minority party is
    telling an 80% majority that what they want is immaterial, and superfluous.

    That they, and the NRA, and the gun manufacturers, and the anti-government,
    conspiracy theorists, know what’s more approiate in the wake of Sandy Hook,
    and Aurora, and Tucson. And all the grieving parents, husbands, and wives,
    of all the senseless killings to come. They know better. Well, the President is
    right, we deserve better. Those children deserved better. But, they were just
    children. We will have no such excuse, for doing nothing, when the killing
    starts anew. What would you say to that parent, or that husband, or wife?
    That you’re sorry, but we just can’t do a thing about this kind of stuff. That
    we’re all just pretty much as helpless as those first graders. Hiding in our
    rooms, hoping the killer don’t come for us.