Toomey on gun laws: GOP didn't want to be seen helping Obama
May 1st, 2013
08:46 PM ET
12 months ago

Toomey on gun laws: GOP didn't want to be seen helping Obama

(CNN) - Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania blamed political polarization for the failure of last month's background check compromise he reached with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, saying some in his party simply voted against the measure to prevent the president from winning a legislative victory.

"In the end, it didn't pass because we're so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it," Toomey said.

"The toughest thing to do in politics is to do the right thing when your supporters think the right thing is something else," he added.

His comments came in an interview Tuesday with a roundtable of Digital First Media editors in the offices of the Times Herald newspaper in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

According to the editors at the meeting, Toomey clarified his comment, saying he meant to say Republicans in general, not just his GOP colleagues in the Senate.

Toomey was one of four Republicans who voted on a measure to expand the background check system so that it covers private sales at gun shows and online. Five Democrats voted against the proposal (including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who voted no so he could bring the bill back up later).

In a 54-46 vote, the measure failed to reach the 60 votes needed to move forward in the Senate. Along with the background checks legislation, a ban on assault weapons also went down in defeat.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday in a news conference that he suspected there were Republican members in Congress who vote against their instincts for political purposes.

"Their base thinks that compromise with me is somehow a betrayal. They're worried about primaries. And I understand all that. And we're going to try to do everything we can to create a permission structure for them to be able to do what's going to be best for the country," he said. "But it's going to take some time."

The president and gun control advocates chided lawmakers for failing to pass the proposal, the only one that had a real shot of passing among the slew of gun proposals brought forward in the wake of the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

While Obama, Reid and gun control groups have vowed to keep up the pressure and bring the legislation back for a vote down the road, Toomey expressed doubt that a second vote will happen soon.

"Reid could bring it up for a vote at any time, but we need five people to change their minds," Toomey said.

"It's a pretty heavy lift to get five senators to change their mind on a big issue like this," he added. "It's not likely to happen any time soon. I hope people will reconsider over time."

His comments sounded less enthusiastic compared with those made by Manchin. The senator from West Virginia said Sunday he believes the measure is still alive and together they can persuade enough lawmakers to support it.

"I truly believe if we have time to sell the bill, and people read the bill," it will gain support, Manchin said. "I'm willing to go anywhere in this country, I'm going to debate anybody on this issue, read the bill and you tell me what you don't like."

– CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Gun control • Gun rights • Joe Manchin • Pat Toomey
soundoff (555 Responses)
  1. not perfect yet

    The entire world is laughing at America for allowing the NRA to buy Republican politicians despite the fact that the majority wants stricter gun control measures. Our inability to protect our young people because of the old people's selfishness is shameful and everyone knows it.

    May 2, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  2. Swiss Neutral

    Seems to me, not being from either side, here....that the Democrats are trying to force a lame "solution" (that isn't much of a solution, at all), down all of our throats, and the first moment anyone says, "Wait a minute....." is the moment the Left attacks that person.

    Here's an idea – If the Left wants real change (for gun safety), then come up with a real plan (one that would actually work). Otherwise, we shouldn't suffer your lame non-working 'solutions' nor your insults simply because everyone doesn't agree with you.

    May 2, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  3. Tony Torres

    How in the HELL do these morons get elected keep getting elected. Go find out who is really backing these people but sure as hell they are not working for their constituents. I doubt that that many ignorant people live together that would vote against their own interest because you either are dumb or gaining something, They can not be that stupid. Can think of any other reason, Oh yeah Obama is black.

    May 2, 2013 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  4. MaryM

    NRA meeting in Houston this week. Featured GOP speakers are Palin, Cruz, Hannity and of course Glen Beck and ted nugent. Everyone bring your guns.
    What could possibly go wrong

    May 2, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  5. Helen Hevener

    Just what I have been thinking all along- if the President thinks it is right and wants to get the bill passed- the republicans will do everything in their power to stop the bill- whether it would help the Country or not. They just dont want President Obama to accomplish anything- and the President cannot do things all on his own- he has to have their cooperation!!! Politics has become polarized to the point where the republicans would never agree to help the President on any issue for any reason!!!

    May 2, 2013 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
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