Toomey on gun laws: GOP didn't want to be seen helping Obama
May 1st, 2013
08:46 PM ET
2 years 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. 2012liberal

    How can anyone say anything about background checks dont prevent crime? U have ppl go by loads of weapons at gun show w/o id. But scream at the top of yr lungs about fast and furious! Ducking hypocrites. And lets arm 5yr olds 4 schl shall we. Seems 2 work well 4 kentucky. I have no sympathy 4 ignorance!

    May 2, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. Ferret out the BS

    GOP is done, put a fork in them for 2014.

    May 2, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  3. not perfect yet

    Does anyone know someone that still supports the Republicans?

    May 2, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. z.v

    It is time that you will understand – Obama is President of the United States -
    He was elected for the second time in a high percentage,
    And you needs to get it!!!
    What you do is go against American citizens
    This is not the reason you have been chosen to sit in Congress or in the House!!!!!

    May 2, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. pkrbkr3

    We, the 90% need to have OUR voices heard.....at the ballot box in 2014, and in any town hall meetings before then.
    Our President represents ALL of us.....our Congressional men and women think only of themselves and the next election/NRA "score card." So very sad. I have emailed my Senator Johnson asking for a personal response, not a form letter.....have received nothing. It there's a town hall meeting with him I'll make my opinion heard. I encourage everyone to do the same. These people have no backbones. How can they sleep at night?

    May 2, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. rs

    I dunno norb-
    The NRA and their GOP lackies obviously like that criminals and terrorists can buy guns at gun shows, and refuse to close that loophole. Shoot its good business, right? Al Queda has directed people to gun shows for that reason most likley. As the GOP is completely unmoved by 22 school shootings in the last 10 years (or their NRA overlords won't let them I guess), then, yeah, Taliban describes them pretty well. They are actively supporting public violence against Americans- children even, and frankly the sane among us have had enough! The GOP and the NRA think that 3,700 gun deaths since Newtown is worth that "freedom". Me? I think it is pretty sick, and very hard to defend rationally.
    Stand with them if you like, but it is going to just get messier and messier.

    May 2, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. Steve, New York City

    I am afraid that Senator Toomey is correct. Kudos to him for trying to do the right thing.

    Gun laws in this country are out of control. How on earth does a 5 year old in Kentucky receive a firearm as a present? A 5 year old????? Will he/she get a concealed weapons license when they reach the 2nd grade???? How many more awful tragedies have to occur before some money-hungry senators will finally take proper action on this topic?

    May 2, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. Oakspar77777

    The right thing for the Federal Government to do is to protect and expand the freedoms of the People, not regulate their freedoms away.

    Toomey thought he was getting a good deal trading 1 gun freedom away to get back 3 others – but a great deal buying back from thieves what was stolen from you to begin with is never a good deal. It also makes them feel like they have legitimately gotten those freedoms so ransomed.

    May 2, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  9. mightyduk

    Republicans are anti American obstructionist, and this surprised who?

    May 2, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. norb

    - 2012liberal
    How can anyone say anything about background checks dont prevent crime? U have ppl go by loads of weapons at gun show w/o id. But scream at the top of yr lungs about fast and furious! Ducking hypocrites. And lets arm 5yr olds 4 schl shall we. Seems 2 work well 4 kentucky. I have no sympathy 4 ignorance
    --
    Do you really think the criminals are getting their guns at gun shows, really? Do you think criminals would take a chance in attending an event where cops will most likely hang out? You are WAY too naive - think it through for yourself and stop parroting the propaganda that you are reading/hearing elsewhere.

    background check would NOT have prevented the death in Kentucky - requiring/providing a free safety course would have been a better idea – but even then it might not have prevented this death. People due dumb things you cannot always prevent that.

    May 2, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  11. norb

    rs
    I dunno norb-
    The NRA and their GOP lackies obviously like that criminals and terrorists can buy guns at gun shows, and refuse to close that loophole. Shoot its good business, right? Al Queda has directed people to gun shows for that reason most likley. As the GOP is completely unmoved by 22 school shootings in the last 10 years (or their NRA overlords won't let them I guess), then, yeah, Taliban describes them pretty well. They are actively supporting public violence against Americans- children even, and frankly the sane among us have had enough! The GOP and the NRA think that 3,700 gun deaths since Newtown is worth that "freedom". Me? I think it is pretty sick, and very hard to defend rationally.
    Stand with them if you like, but it is going to just get messier and messier.

    -

    First of all it is HIGHLY unlikely that terrorists and criminals are getting their guns at gun shows(stop parroting the propaganda that you are hearing elsewhere) - think about it - would a known criminal/terrorist take a chance hanging out at a place where there are most likely cops and undercover cops??? You know for certain that Al Qaeda is hanging out at gun shows really??? met one??? Again you are parroting what you heard else where and treating it as fact??? STOP THE PROPAGANDA LIES!!!

    do you really believe that background checks would have prevented ANY of those school shootings - None of those killers would have been flagged during a background check – no previous records etc.

    May 2, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. lolo

    @ Norb you are naive. Yes they will go and get the guns while the cops are standing right there, because small town cops are too busy schmoozing it up with their neighbors and they know exactly what is going on in their towns when it comes to the gun shows. Money talks BS walks and please do not try to say or convince your point that this does not happens because it does. You think the gun shows are not passing bucks under the table?. Talk about naive. No it would not have prevented the death in Kentucky, but the parent who thought it was a good idea to purchase a gun for a five year olds birthday should be thrown in jail. That is just plain stupid period. But you folks think that it is okay.

    May 2, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. Dave in Arizona

    Republicans being Republicans. Big shocker.

    May 2, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. GI Joe

    Kelly Anotte is McCain/Graham's lapdog, and doesn't listen to her constituents - she tells them she will do what she thinks is best for them. Bet she disappears next time she's up for re-election. Good riddance. A lot of them are like that - NRA pays them !!!!!!!!!!

    May 2, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. Beth

    The Liberals scream, "We must DO something!!" – however, they have no earthly clue WHAT to do, so they cling to false senses of security, like very weak "background" checks. If these pacifist liberals REALLY wanted something to be done, then why do they satisfice themselves with such flimsy half-solutions that would actually do NOTHING to stop gun violence. Nothing.

    Meanwhile, far more innocent men, women, and children are violently smashed to death from the illegal use of cars – and these Libs don't run around demonizing the AAA and Auto industry, even though ANYONE can buy a car, drink, speed, or text and drive and kill – happens more than with guns. Libs don't really care about innocent lives. They just don't like conservatives.

    May 2, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  16. Ms Hudson

    The Liberals scream, "We must DO something!!" – however, they have no earthly clue WHAT to do, so they cling to false senses of security, like very weak "background" checks. If these pacifist liberals REALLY wanted something to be done, then why do they satisfice themselves with such flimsy half-solutions that would actually do NOTHING to stop gun violence. Nothing.

    Meanwhile, far more innocent men, women, and children are violently smashed to death from the illegal use of cars – and these Libs don't run around demonizing the AAA and Auto industry, even though ANYONE can buy a car, drink, speed, or text and drive and kill – happens more than with guns. Libs don't really care about innocent lives. They just don't like conservatives.

    May 2, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  17. rs

    do you really believe that background checks would have prevented ANY of those school shootings – None of those killers would have been flagged during a background check – no previous records etc.
    _________________________
    So we should have no limits on gun sales? None whatsoever? Sorry, your myth "the good guy with a gun" certainly doesn't work. As to your denial of straw buyers and gun shows- what do you think Bush's "gunwalking" programs and the later Fast and Furious were about? TRACKING guns to criminals.

    May 2, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  18. rs

    Norb-
    Go to gun shows in the SW or even better, garage sales. You can't tell me the slimey folks who want to know where the private gun sales are, or who ask if you're selling any guns are the good guys. They aren't, they're the crooks, and the people the NRA wants armed so they can keep their little arms war going for the gun makers.

    May 2, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  19. Rachel

    I think it's pretty darn sick how the Liberal Democrats strongly support the AAA and Auto Industry....sickens me to no end. These Liberal Democrats don't care than ANYONE and I mean ANYONE can buy a car, then drink (alcohol), speed, text, or wrecklessly lane change and then violently SMASH an innocent family to death.

    This type of senseless carnage happens at a greater clip than the deaths from guns and I cannot fathom why the Liberal Democrats support the AAA and Auto Industry – they keep making cars faster and heavier and NOTHING is done to perform extensive 'BACKGROUND' checks on every car purchaser – you can buy these deadly machines ANYWHERE without a background check to see if the person is going to needlessly smash a family to death by illegally using the car.

    May 2, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  20. rs

    these Libs don't run around demonizing the AAA and Auto industry, even though ANYONE can buy a car, drink, speed, or text and drive and kill – happens more than with guns. Libs don't really care about innocent lives. They just don't like conservatives.
    _________________________________
    First, Beth- I don't think you'll find anyone- manufacturer or Triple A advocating "illegal" uses for automobiles- in fact they advocate car and driving safety. Bad call. Second, as is is so readily apparent, cars have useful purposes. Guns are used to kill.Third, the one place you little screed might make sense is we really should treat cars and guns the same- license the owner/user, register the gun, require insurance and track every sale. Treat guns JUST LIKE cars. I am with you there.

    May 2, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. Heather

    It's pretty clear the Liberal Democrats don't have a viable solution, so they simply want to 'CLAMP' down on all gun sales, punishing regular law abiding citizens more than anyone else.

    How would Liberal Democrats like it if we said, "Hey, more people die from the illegal use of cars." So, in order to keep all thugs who would buy a car, drink, text, speed and drive, and violently smash a family to death, we are going to implement an extensive, invasive backgound check on all car sales, even private citizen to citizen car sales, because we need to weed out illegal use of cars, because more deaths occur from the illegal use of cars than guns. So, in order to save innocent lives, we need to "do" something like extensive universal background checks for ALL car purchases....that is, unless Dems disagree.....

    May 2, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  22. Wake up People!

    Beth/Rachel/ Ms. Hudson or whatever your name is. I just hope you still feel the same way when your 6 year old is pumped full of lead by some gun nut.

    May 2, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  23. norb

    @lolo
    @ Norb you are naive. Yes they will go and get the guns while the cops are standing right there, because small town cops are too busy schmoozing it up with their neighbors and they know exactly what is going on in their towns when it comes to the gun shows. Money talks BS walks and please do not try to say or convince your point that this does not happens because it does. You think the gun shows are not passing bucks under the table?. Talk about naive. No it would not have prevented the death in Kentucky, but the parent who thought it was a good idea to purchase a gun for a five year olds birthday should be thrown in jail. That is just plain stupid period. But you folks think that it is okay.

    -

    Lolo - nope not being naive - Do some research for yourself! - I am sure there are occasional under the table deals - but those can happen in private as well and there is NO WAY you are going to prevent those. Based on several studies I looked up - 2% of gun show sales are used in criminal activity. Lets say that is low and it is closer to 5%. You would be preventing 5% of criminal guns at the gun shows - supply and demand dictates they would get them through the means above.

    Do you have proof that this "smoozing" with cops is happening in small towns that are letting criminals buy guns? please post an article or a study!!

    A recent survey of criminals and how they obtained their most recent handgun, the arrestees answered as follows: 56% said they paid cash; 15% said it was a gift; 10% said they borrowed it; 8% said they traded for it; while 5% only said that they stole it. Nearly 30% of the guns in criminal activity come from legal(Federal Firearm Licensees)FFLs(whch require background checks!!)
    Here is a quote from an ATF agent: "Let's be honest. If someone wants a gun, it's obvious the person will not have difficulty buying a gun, either legally or through the extensive United States black market.

    So the parent of the 5yr old should be in jail for negligence - what about the parent that let the gate open and the 5yr drown in the pool, or that didn't properly buckle the kid in a car seat. Education and Training are the only ways to help prevent future tragedies like that one. Even then dumb tragedies will still happen.

    May 2, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  24. rs

    Beth/Heather/Rachel/Ms Hudson-
    Your clear multiple personality disorder probably should keep guns out of your hands if you get subjected to a background check. Were your frightened by a car as a child?

    May 2, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. Larry in Houston

    Toomey on gun laws: GOP didn't want to be seen helping Obama – - LOL – - reminds me of why the GOP "banned" Christy & McDonnell (& I can't remember who else off hand right now) when they didn't want them any where near C-PAC – lol – amazing, isn't it ? (the only ones who were decent people) + thought rationally ) BUT, I guess they didn't want any "rational" thinking people. LOL

    May 2, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
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