THE FACTS: In April 2013, when the United States Senate considered legislation to expand the federal background check system, both of Pennsylvania’s Senators, Patrick Toomey and Robert Casey, supported the legislation. In fact, Senator Toomey played a critical role in the effort to gain bipartisan support for what became known as the Toomey-Manchin background check bill (S.649). The purpose of the bill was to expand the federal background check system to cover commercial sales beyond those that occur at a licensed federal dealer, including at gun shows, online intrastate sales, and other commercial transactions.
THE GOOD NEWS: Both Toomey and Casey have historically received high ratings from the NRA and were not expected to advance gun violence prevention legislation. This change is a signal that support for commonsense policy initiatives can be bipartisan and make good political sense.
MORE TO DO? Yes! The legislation failed to garner the 60 votes needed for an up or down vote in the Senate. Companion legislation in the House (HR 1565) is also in limbo, as more cosponsors are needed to continue to grow support. Currently, there are 186 cosponsors, mostly democrats, including many from PA. Two of the three Republican cosponsors are Pennsylvania congressmen. We need to continue to convince our Pennsylvania representatives to sign on and work to bring these bills to a vote.