Baer: More violence, same political posturing from McGinty, Toomey

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Democratic Senate candidate Katie McGinty and incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

THE ONLY THING as predictable as America's gun violence, including mass shootings, is America's political rapid reaction, especially in an election year - calling for legal measures to save us from America's gun violence.

If that sounds annoyingly repetitive, it's because it's like everything to do with this issue.

The Orlando nightclub shootings early Sunday set off yet another national debate on guns, offering politicians at all levels yet another platform for themselves.

So, no surprise, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty is calling out her Republican opponent, Sen. Pat Toomey, to do more to fight gun violence.

There is some irony here.

Toomey's just about the only Republican anywhere who's actually tried to do something on guns. He pushed to expand background checks for gun purchases after the December 2012 shooting deaths of 20 elementary school children and six educators in Newtown, Conn. The effort failed - twice.

But now, McGinty is at Toomey for voting against a Democratic measure last December that would ban those on the FBI terror watch list from buying guns. It, too, failed.

Toomey backed a similar but less-restrictive GOP version of the measure that allowed gun buyers to challenge being on the watch list. That also failed.

So, a couple things.

McGinty's urging Toomey to now change his mind and vote for the Democratic terror-list ban, if and when it resurfaces, is perfect in its political timing (if not in its implication).

Orlando is on everyone's mind, and keeping terror-watched individuals from buying guns sounds eminently sensible.

Where's the leadership!

But McGinty is quoted in a piece by my colleagues Jonathan Tamari and Chris Brennan as saying Toomey "has worked to allow suspected terrorists to buy guns."

Really? He worked to get terrorists guns?

Is it me, or is that slightly overstated?

Even though the Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, was on an FBI watch list a few years back, he was removed from the list after two investigations.

So linking Mateen and Orlando to Toomey's vote last December is disingenuous.

It implies a "yes" vote from Toomey could have somehow resulted in stopping Mateen (who was not on a watch list, and had two gun licenses and legally purchased weapons) from his rampage.

The hard truth is, nothing stops this stuff.

Not a single bill. Not a single vote. Not a speech. Not a law. Gun violence happens, mass shootings happen, regardless of laws.

How often does this need to be proved?

Still, we get calls, including now from Hillary Clinton, to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, such as the AR-15-style rifle used in Orlando.

The ban was in place from 1994 to 2004. There were mass shootings before, during, and after it. There will be more.

But where's the political will or intent to enact new gun-control laws?

An ABC News/Washington Post survey just last December - right after a terror attack in San Bernardino, Calif., left 14 dead, 21 wounded - found a majority of Americans, for the first time in 20 years, opposed banning assault weapons.

Online polling this week - right after Orlando - in states as different as New Jersey and Colorado found a majority of respondents opposed to reinstating an assault weapons ban.

Think Congress, in an election year, or Pennsylvania (ever) is moving toward reducing access to firearms of any kind?

It's more likely a President Hillary Clinton abolishes the Second Amendment, or a President Donald Trump deports 11 million undocumented immigrants.

But, by all means, let's rev up the rhetoric. Let's see what comes of that.

baerj@phillynews.com

Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

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