Mar 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan pair of senators say Congress could pass expanded gun background check bill

Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Sunday's "Meet the Press" they believe that Congress will finally be able to pass legislation on expanded gun background checks.

Why it matters: Recent mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado have brought a renewed focus on the problem of gun violence in America. Last week President Biden called on Congress to take action on gun control.

  • Murphy said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has tapped has tapped him to lead Senate Democrats' current efforts to find a bipartisan agreement on expanding background checks.
  • Murphy said his aim was to find a compromise that could get the necessary 60 votes in the Senate.

What they're saying: Murphy noted that the political landscape has "shifted dramatically" in the last few years. Although he said he welcomes a broader conversation about gun control measures, he said that background checks are the starting point.

  • "I think right now our best chance to get something passed is universal background checks."
  • "Once we convince Republicans that the sky doesn’t fall for you politically when you support a reasonable expansion of something like background checks, you can move onto other interventions."
  • "I've gotten a lot of calls from Republicans in the Senate who don't want to fight this fight any longer, because the NRA's authority is fading, the anti-gun violence movement's impact is increasing."

Toomey argued that the issue behind gun violence is not necessarily the amount of guns in circulation, but a question of who has those guns.

  • "My focus has always been: Make it more difficult for people that we all agree should not have firearms, make it more difficult for them to get firearms. That is violent criminals, the dangerously mentally ill.”
  • "Whether a law-abiding citizen owns three guns or four, that has absolutely no impact on anybody's safety."
  • Toomey was the lead Republican sponsor of an expanded background check bill in 2013 that failed to meet the 60 vote threshold needed to pass.
  • The Republican senator says bipartisan agreement could be found around commercial background checks but threw cold water on the idea that the recent House-passed gun bill would be able to even find "50 votes" in the Senate.
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