Over the weekend, Pennsylvanians for Self Protection – an ardent pro-Second Amendment group – cancelled their scheduled protests at Toomey’s office statewide after receiving “positive responses to our request that the Toomey-Manchin anti-gun legislation or similar bills not be re-introduced,” a statement on the group’s website reads.
“We will update you if the need arises for a political demonstration, but now it seems unnecessary,” the statement concluded.
Democratic Senate candidate Katie McGinty hit back at Toomey’s assurances to the group, saying the Senator had been “caught red-handed” playing politics with the citizens of PA.
“Pat Toomey was caught red-handed telling certain groups one thing, and telling Pennsylvanians something completely different,” McGinty’s campaign manager Mike Mikus said. “Sen. Toomey needs to come clean and explain why he promised a prominent anti-gun safety group that he wouldn’t re-introduce legislation that could save lives.”
Two years ago, PA’s junior Senator teamed up with Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin to push for tougher background checks for commercial sales of firearms, though the bill failed to pass the Senate by six votes.
After a shooting in a Charleston church left nine parishioners dead, calls for stricter background check legislation again intensified, with many looking to Toomey for some movement.
“What I’m trying to figure out is, is there something that could get the support of the 60 votes that we would need in the Senate,” Toomey told The Washington Post a week after the Charleston massacre. “Joe Manchin was and is a great partner and someone I will continue to work with, and I’m open to exploring what is possible.”
Toomey tried to make it clear at the time that any effort to reform gun laws would take time and effort, and would likely fail in today’s Congress.
Families of the victims of the December 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting gathered to honor Toomey in June – just a week after the Charleston shooting – for his work on pushing for restrictions on gun ownership in the Toomey-Manchin bill.
“Senator Toomey is 100% committed to expanding background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill,” his campaign told PoliticsPA. “He is open to supporting any legislative effort that accomplishes that goal, including the reintroduction of the Manchin-Toomey bill.”
As Toomey walks a tightrope trying to win a second term in the Senate, Democratic challengers Joe Sestak, McGinty and John Fetterman will be hoping he slips.
UPDATE: Joe Sestak’s campaign sent the following statement to PoliticsPA:
“Do you want a warrior who is beside you all the time, or a guy who deserts after one lost battle? Despite repeatedly claiming he is ‘looking for opportunities’ to reintroduce the bill, either Sen. Toomey lacks the courage to simply reintroduce it or his true conviction remains the same as when he said ‘my idea of gun control is a steady aim.'”