Washington -- Senator Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, who is part of the group of senators discussing a package for new gun laws, stated Sunday that background checks would be expanded as the discussions continue.
"This is a moving target. If you will, we're still having discussions and trying to figure out the exact mechanism that will allow us to get all the votes we need. It's not possible to be exact about this. In an interview with Face the Nation, Toomey stated that it hasn't been resolved. "But, something in the area of expanding background checks, I think it is very well. It certainly is on the agenda and I hope that it will be part of the final package."
Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Toomey have proposed legislation that would allow background checks to be expanded for almost a decade. The Senate rejected the Manchin-Toomey Amendment in 2013, despite it having been supported by four Republicans.
Toomey acknowledged that he has worked for years to pass legislation to strengthen background check requirements for commercial firearm sales, including online sales. However, he and Manchin acknowledge that their plan might not be included in the final legislation presented by the bipartisan group.
"I don’t know if we’ll get exactly what Senator Manchin, I and others developed many years ago. It’d probably be something else than that. That's okay. He said that there are many ways to increase background checks. It just makes sense to me. All of us agree that firearms should not be owned by violent criminals or dangerously mentally ill individuals. We need a way to identify these people and stop them from purchasing legal guns.
Toomey is one six Republican senators who are working with a group led by Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut to reach consensus on a legislative plan to amend the nation's gun laws after mass shootings at a Buffalo grocery store, New York in May and at an elementary school in Uvalde in Texas 10 days later.
According to the Gun Violence Archive the massacres were among 239 mass shootings this year. This prompted Congress to search again for a legislative solution to stop gun violence.
President Biden has pressed lawmakers to pass legislation that would restore the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazine, raise the minimum purchase age for assault weapons from 18 to 21, strengthen background check, implement safe storage and red flag laws, and eliminate the immunity that protects gun manufacturers from liability. Biden has also advocated for increased mental health resources. This is one area that has the support of Republicans.
A CBS News poll released Sunday showed that 81% Americans support background checks for all gun buyers, while 62% support a national ban on AR-15s. However, gun restrictions support is split based on party lines. It's unlikely enough Senate Republicans will support these measures in order to move them through the upper chamber. To pass legislation in the 50-50 Senate, 10 GOP senators will be needed.
Toomey stated that he still hopes more than 10 Republicans would support a package reached by the bipartisan group.
"My hope is that we get at least half of the Republican conference. He said, "You know that that should be our goal." "We have to be realistic about the possibilities. Senator Murphy mentioned the fact that it won't be all the Democrats want. We'll be watching to see what happens."
The Pennsylvania Republican expressed concern that gun control legislation might violate Americans' constitutional rights. He said that he believes there is a "place for land" that is compatible with the Second Amendment.
"I believe that encouraging states to adopt red flag laws would make sense, provided there is adequate due process. Toomey stated that he believes there are school safety provisions and mental health issues we could address. "So, there are things that we could do that would have a constructive effect and that are consistent Republican values. I hope we get there."