WASHINGTON – It’s not looking promising for Sen. Pat Toomey’s compromise plan on background checks for gun purchases.
With a senate vote scheduled at 4 p.m., he and Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) still don’t have the 60 votes needed to advance their bill. Senate aides last night said the pair were still short of the votes they need, and this morning Toomey (R., Pa.) told the National Review “As we sit here this morning, we don’t have the votes.”
Manchin made similar comments today.
“I’m here at my desk working the phones,” Toomey said in a conference call Wednesday morning. “I expect a close vote.”
It does not appear, however, that the two will get enough support.
“Many outside groups have mischaracterized the legislation. There have been many wildly inaccurate attributes suggested about this bill that are simply not true,” Toomey said.
Many have raised fears that expanding background checks to cover gun shows and online sales would result in a “national registry” of firearm owners – even though the Toomey-Manchin bill explicitly bans such a list.
Toomey said a leak of his talks with Manchin allowed rumors to begin before they could present the actual bill.
“I understand there are a lot of Pennsylvanians and a lot of Americans who have become, to varying degrees, distrustful of the federal government, and that I think is coloring people’s,” responses, he said.
Earlier this morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) spoke out against “conspiracy theories” put forward by gun rights advocates.
“The United States military is not out to get us. Federal law enforcement and local police departments are not out to get us. These conspiracy theories are dangerous and they should be put to rest,” Reid said, reversing his position and announcing that he would back an assault weapons ban and ban on high-capacity clips. “In the real world, in addition to mowing down first-graders, assault weapons are used to shoot down the very people who are sworn to protect us.”
He called claims about a gun registry “shameful scare tactics,” pointing out that the Manchin-Toomey plan calls for 15-years in prison for anyone who attempts to make such a list.
“Maintaining law and order is more important than satisfying conspiracy theorists who believe in black helicopters and false flags,” Reid said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) responded, “we should focus on keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and those with mental issues that could cause them to be a threat to society.
The government should not punish or harass law-abiding citizens in the exercise of their Second Amendment rights, and it’s that focus on protecting communities and preserving our constituents’ constitutional rights that will be my guide as we begin to vote on amendments to this bill."
The proposed bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are also scheduled for this afternoon, and also expected to fall short.