Below is the transcript of an interview with Republican Senator Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania. It aired on Sunday, June 5, 2022 on Face the Nation.
MARGARET BRENNAN : Now we turn to Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania. He is involved in bipartisan efforts for reducing gun violence. He is here from the Keystone State. Senator, welcome.
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: Good Morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN : These numbers are quite staggering. In 2022, there were 239 mass shootings. The gun violence archive is a non-profit that tracks mass shootings. Overnight, in Philadelphia, there were three deaths and 14 injuries from semi-automatic weapons. What is the point of violence at this level in America?
SEN. TOOMEY (Yes, that's right, it's complex and multifaceted. As Margaret knows, crime in big cities has increased tremendously in certain cases. There are many factors that contribute to this. In some cases, district attorneys believe their job is to ensure no one goes to prison. This is a problem. Then, there are these horrendous sensational murders where a young man has clearly gone off the rails. This is a different set of circumstances. It's a complex problem that is big.
MARGARET BRENNAN : It's a complex problem. Most attempts to find a solution have failed. However, the Democrats and Republicans that we mentioned are currently negotiating to find something. Ten Republican votes are needed by Democrats. Six Republicans are working with Senator Chris Murphy today. He said that you all are currently writing the legislation. It won't ban assault weapons and it won't have extensive background checks. Is your suggestion to expand background checks still in the document?
SEN. TOOMEY (Yes, I hope that we will have an increase in background checks. This is something Senator Manchin and myself have been working on for quite some time. We've tried to make sure that background checks are mandatory for all commercial firearm sales. Sales at gun shows and sales advertised online are both prohibited. Although I don't think we'll see exactly what Senator Manchin, I and others developed years ago it will probably be something else. That's okay. You have many options to expand your background checks. It just makes sense to me. All of us agree that firearms should not be owned by violent criminals or deranged dangerously mental ill persons. We need a way to identify these people and stop them from purchasing guns legally.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So to-
SEN. TOOMEY : So that's why we need to expand background checks.
MARGARET BRENNAN What's currently surviving is basically a reduced version of what you proposed. What makes it different?
SEN. TOOMEY (English): This is a moving target. We're still in discussion and trying to figure out the best way to get the votes we need. It's not possible to be exact about this. Margaret, this is still a matter of debate. However, something within the area of expanding background checks, which I believe is very well, is on the table. I hope it will be part of a final package.
MARGARET BRENNAN You may have heard of a Republican congressman from New York. Chris Jacobs. He represents a Buffalo district where there was an horrific mass shooting just weeks ago. He dropped out of his race for reelection. He publicly supported a Federal Assault Weapons Ban, and restrictions on high-capacity magazines seven days later. Here's what he had for us.
REP. CHRIS JACOBS OT ON TAPE: There is a problem with our country's major parties. You will be annihilated if you move away from your party position. It was obvious to me that gun control is the issue for the Republicans. Any gun control.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you in agreement with him?
SEN. TOOMEY (NOT): I don't. I believe there is a wide variety of opinions among elected Republicans, just like there are among Republican voters throughout the country.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well-
SEN. TOOMEY (in my case) -I wrote a bill along with Senator Manchin, and advocated for expanded background checks in 2013. As you pointed out, this was again done in 2015.
MARGARET BRENAN: You couldn't get enough Republicans voting with you to pass it-
SEN. TOOMEY -We voted in 2016. I was reelected - I was. I was elected without any primary challenge. That tells me something, I think.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, excuse me, I'm sorry, my voice. This idea of the President being a deal-breaker and broker has been promoted by him. Is he required to be involved? Is it possible that the president's involvement could reduce the chance of success?
SEN. TOOMEY (Yes, I believe the President could have been a president who would reach across all lines and try to bring people together. He has chosen to not take that approach. He has been a supporter of the far left and not attempted to reach out to Republicans since day one. In a speech, he advocated policies that were not likely to pass the Senate. He said that policies that would have 50 votes or less and could not hold the Democrats any more than the 60 we need. Again, it is clear that the President isn't being helpful. At the end of it all, I believe that this will come down to whether or not we can reach consensus in the United States Senate. There are intense discussions going on. This includes those who have never been involved in this matter in the past. It is impossible to predict the outcome. It feels like we are closer than ever since I was in the Senate.
MARGARET BRENAN: How can you get the other four Republicans to stand by you, the six who have been negotiating?
SEN. TOOMEY (My hope is that we will get much more than that). My hope is that we get at least half of the republican conference. That's the goal. It's going to take some realizing of what we can accomplish. Senator Murphy mentioned the fact that it won't be all. The Democrats would love it. We'll, we'll be there.
MARGARET BRENNAN - Is there a danger that the Republican Party will be associated with gun violence if it can't get these votes?
SEN. TOOMEY (You know, look, I believe the Republicans have been very consistent supporters of Second Amendment rights. Republican voters expect Republicans will defend the Second Amendment. As I believe there is a place that's compatible with the Second Amendment, and as I have been advocating for expanding background check, I think encouraging states having some form of red flag laws might make sense, provided there's sufficient due process. There are school safety provisions and mental health issues we can address. There are some things that we can do constructively, which are consistent with Republican values. I hope we get there.
MARGARET BRENAN: Senator, we appreciate your time today. We will be watching for the results of the Face the Nation talks. We will be back in a moment.