Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey’s (R-PA) bipartisan compromise on expanding gun sale background checks was widely praised by gun safety advocates as an important reform, and slammed by the National Rifle Association as a step in the wrong direction. But at least one major gun group thinks that the conventional wisdom has it backwards.
Daylight Disinfectant has obtained video of Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, bragging that “we snookered the other side” by loading the Manchin-Toomey bill with pro-gun amendments.
“It’s a Christmas tree,” Gottlieb said to a Portland, OR crowd on Friday. “We just hung a million ornaments on it.”
“We’re taking the background check and making it a pro-gun bill,” he continued. “Unfortunately, some of my colleagues haven’t quite figured it out yet because they weren’t sitting in the room writing it. My staff was.”
“If you really read what’s in the Manchin-Toomey bill — man, it’s a godsend. We win rights back like crazy,” he later added. “I think we snookered the other side. They haven’t figured it out yet.”
Gottlieb also suggested that maybe he should have kept his opinion to himself, noting, “If we talk about it too much, the other side’s gonna find out about it and they’re gonna realize we’re gonna win off of this thing.”
Video of the speech is below, via Daylight Disinfectant:
Indeed, although the Manchin-Toomey compromise would represent the most significant gun reform in two decades, it contains many elements that should please the “gun rights” crowd. The bill exempts private, not-for-profit sales from background checks (falling far short of the universal standard sought by many Democrats), allows concealed-carry permits to transfer across state lines, and explicitly bans the creation of a national gun registry, among other provisions. The compromises were enough to lead New York governor Andrew Cuomo, a prominent gun reform advocate, to lament, “This is a Congress that is captive of the extremists and there is no clearer proof of that than this.”
In addition to the Second Amendment Foundation, the Citizens’ Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms — which claims to be the nation’s second-largest “gun rights” group, and with which Gottlieb is also closely associated — has also publicly endorsed the bill.
Still, it’s unclear whether this push from gun interest groups will actually make a difference in the final vote. As of now, just four Republican senators — Toomey, Susan Collins (R-ME), John McCain (R-AZ), and Mark Kirk (R-IL) — have signaled their intention to vote for the bill. Several red-state Democrats have also suggested that they will oppose the bill, despite the political cover provided by the gun interest groups. If a bipartisan bill that is so tame that “gun rights” groups hail it as a major victory cannot move through the Senate, then it would be safe to question whether any reform is truly possible.