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2 weeks ago
Reply from Senator Pat Toomey
Thank you for contacting me about national firearms policy. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
Like many Pennsylvanians, I have long been a supporter of the Second Amendment. Americans have an individual right to bear arms for self-protection, hunting and recreation. In fact, during my tenure in the House of Representatives (1999-2005), my record of supporting gun owners' rights earned me an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA).
As important as Second Amendment rights are, our society recognizes that these rights do not apply to criminals and the dangerously mentally ill. Writing for the conservative majority in the landmark Supreme Court case, District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the court struck down the D.C. gun ban, Justice Antonin Scalia stated, "Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill...or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms." In other words, Justice Scalia affirmed that laws preventing criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining firearms do not infringe on the Second Amendment.
As you know, I recently introduced an amendment, along with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), to the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 (S. 649). Our amendment had three parts. The first was to improve state compliance with the existing National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The second part was to expand background checks to commercial sales at gun shows or through the internet. These first two parts of our amendment were designed to make it more difficult for criminals and dangerously mentally ill persons to acquire firearms. The third part would have provided law abiding citizens with expanded opportunities to exercise their Second Amendment Rights.
With regard to the first part of the amendment, NICS relies on states to provide records of persons who should not possess firearms. Compliance varies greatly with some states providing very few records. The amendment requires states to completely participate in NICS in order to be eligible for certain types of federal grant funding.
Full state participation in NICS would help prevent the kind of tragedy that took place at Virginia Tech in 2007. Prior to that mass shooting, in which 32 people were murdered and 23 were injured, shooter Seung Hui Cho had been found mentally ill by a Virginia judge. However, Virginia did not submit that court record to NICS. The absence of this critical information in NICS enabled Cho to pass a background check and purchase the handguns he used for the shooting. This is one example of how the threat of gun violence can be reduced through improvement of the NICS system, a salient objective of the Manchin-Toomey amendment.
The second part, expansion of background checks to other venues such as gun shows, is not a new idea. In the aftermath of the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999, the NRA supported expanding background checks at gun shows during consideration by the House of Representatives of the Mandatory Gun Show Background Check Act (H.R. 2122). I agreed with the NRA then, and so did many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who voted in favor of this legislation.
Current law already requires a background check through NICS for all sales conducted through a federally licensed gun dealer. The Manchin-Toomey amendment would have required individuals seeking to purchase firearms from a non-dealer at a gun show to undergo the same background check as required for purchases from licensed dealers. The amendment would not have mandated "universal" background checks. Personal, non-commercial transfers would not have required background checks.
The third part of our amendment would have been achieved through a number of measures. These measures included allowing active duty military service members to buy a gun in their home state and providing a new legal process for restoring the Second Amendment rights of veterans who, under current law, can be unfairly prevented from acquiring a firearm. Another benefit included protecting law abiding gun owners from arrest or detention by fixing interstate travel laws.
Contrary to some reports, the amendment would not have created or enabled a national gun registry. I have always strongly opposed a gun registry, so our amendment prohibited the creation of a registry and would have established a new felony offense, punishable by a 15-year prison sentence, for any official who attempted to create a federal registry.
Senator Manchin and I posted the text of our amendment on our websites on April 11, 2013, thereby providing six days for our colleagues and the public to review the 49-page measure before a vote. On April 17, 2013, despite bipartisan support and a 54-46 vote in favor, the amendment was defeated due to a 60-vote threshold that was agreed to by unanimous consent.
I acknowledge that some will disagree with the Manchin-Toomey amendment. I am under no illusion that the amendment would necessarily prevent a determined criminal or dangerously mentally ill person from acquiring a firearm. No system can be 100 percent effective in denying firearms to those that should not have them, but that does not mean we should not try to improve the current system. In my view, keeping guns out of the hands of these people is not gun control, but common sense.
Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania2 months ago
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Quit trashing Obama's accomplishments. He has done more than any other President before him.
Here is a list of his impressive accomplishments:
First President to apply for college aid as a foreign student, then deny he was a foreigner.
First President to have a social security number from a state he has never lived in.
First President to preside over a cut to the credit-rating of the United States.
First President to violate the War Powers Act.
First President to be held in contempt of court for illegally obstructing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
First President to require all Americans to purchase a product from a third party.
First President to spend a trillion dollars on "shovel-ready" jobs when there was no such thing as "shovel-ready" jobs.
First President to abrogate bankruptcy law to turn over control of companies to his union supporters.
First President to by-pass Congress and implement the Dream Act through executive fiat.
First President to order a secret amnesty program that stopped the deportation of illegal immigrants across the U.S., including those with criminal convictions.
First President to demand a company hand-over $20 billion to one of his political appointees.
First President to tell a CEO of a major corporation (Chrysler) to resign.
First President to terminate America’s ability to put a man in space.
First President to cancel the National Day of Prayer and to say that America is no longer a Christian nation.
First President to have a law signed by an auto-pen without being present.
First President to arbitrarily declare an existing law unconstitutional and refuse to enforce it.
First President to threaten insurance companies if they publicly spoke out on the reasons for their rate increases.
First President to tell a major manufacturing company in which state it is allowed to locate a factory.
First President to file lawsuits against the states he swore an oath to protect (AZ, WI, OH, IN).
First President to withdraw an existing coal permit that had been properly issued years ago.
First President to actively try to bankrupt an American industry (coal).
First President to fire an inspector general of AmeriCorps for catching one of his friends in a corruption case.
First President to appoint 45 czars to replace elected officials in his office.
First President to surround himself with radical left wing anarchists.
First President to golf 73 separate times in his first two and a half years in office, 120 to date.
First President to hide his medical, educational and travel records.
First President to win a Nobel Peace Prize for doing NOTHING to earn it.
First President to go on multiple "global apology tours" and concurrent "insult our friends" tours.
First President to go on 17 lavish vacations, including date nights and Wednesday evening White House parties for his friends paid for by the taxpayers.
First President to have 22 personal servants (taxpayer funded) for his wife.
First President to keep a dog trainer on retainer for $102,000 a year at taxpayer expense.
First President to fly in a personal trainer from Chicago at least once a week at taxpayer expense.
First President to repeat the Holy Quran & tell us the early morning call of the Azan (Islamic call to worship) is the most beautiful sound on earth.
First President to tell the military men and women that they should pay for their own private insurance because they "volunteered to go to war and knew the consequences."
Then he was the First President to tell the members of the military that THEY were UNPATRIOTIC for balking at the last suggestion.
First President to side with a foreign nation over one of the American 50 states (Mexico vs. Arizona).
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