PA-Sen: Toomey Votes Against Murphy Background Checks Amendment

US_Capitol_Building_at_Night_Washington_DCLast Wednesday, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy led a fifteen hour filibuster in the wake of the massacre in Orlando. The result was that the Senate agreed to consider a number of gun safety measures this week.

Therefore, yesterday the body took four different votes concerning gun control.

Sen. Murphy’s amendment was very similar to the 2013 Toomey-Manchin bill and focused on requiring background checks for private sellers, especially for firearms bought over the internet or at gun shows. Because of a disagreement over the details, however, Toomey announced his opposition last week.

The vote on Sen. Murphy’s amendment failed 44-56. One Republican Senator, Mark Kirk of Illinois, supported it. Three Democratic Senators, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Jon Tester of Montana, opposed it.

Kirk is the most vulnerable Senator in this year’s election cycle while the three Dems must all defend seats in ruby red states in 2018.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley revived the Republican alternative legislation from 2013 as well.

The vote on Sen. Grassley’s amendment achieved a majority, 53-47, but failed to pass the sixty vote cloture threshold. Kirk again voted with the Dems against the bill as did Colorado’s Cory Gardner. One Democrat, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, joined the majority. Donnelly is another Dem up in 2018 whereas while Gardner isn’t up until 2020 yet he is still a Republican in a blue state.

There was also an effort to prohibit suspected terrorists from buying a gun.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s amendment on that subject went down 47-53. Kirk and Heitkamp each crossed party lines again as did New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte. She is also a prime target for Democrats this November.

Finally, Texas Senator (and Senate Majority Whip) John Cornyn introduced his own alternative to Feinstein’s amendment which was rejected 53-47. Two Dems, Joe Donnelly and Joe Manchin, supported the Cornyn amendment. Meanwhile three Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Kirk did not support it. Collins isn’t up for re-election until 2020 but comes from deep blue Maine. Flake is up in 2018 but is from red Arizona (although Democrats believe it is trending their way).

PA Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey both denounced the Senate’s actions for separate reasons.

“Tonight, the Senate defaulted on its basic obligation to keep America safe,” Sen. Casey stated. “Universal background checks and a ban of those on the terrorist watchlist from buying guns represent the bare minimum steps the Senate should take to address gun violence. Some in the U.S. Senate believe that there’s nothing our nation, the most powerful in the world, can do to confront gun violence, which killed 33,646 Americans in 2014, but enforce existing law. I refuse to accept that. That’s not who we are. We’re a nation of people who have always sought solutions to difficult challenges; the scourge of gun violence should be no different. I’ll continue to push for a ban on military-style weapons, limits on magazine and clip sizes, a ban on those on the terror watchlist and those who have committed violent misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing firearms and universal background checks. The victims of gun violence, from large-scale tragedies like Newtown and Orlando and also from the daily crisis of shootings in cities in Pennsylvania and around the country, deserve better. Every day, an average of 91 Americans are killed with guns and robbed of their futures. Members of the Senate should know that their condolences are not enough, only action will meet the test of justice.”

Sen. Toomey’s response is included in full below:

“Today’s votes were nothing more than a partisan charade.  They are symbolic of why most Americans have so little faith in Washington, and why Washington too often does so little to address the serious problems our country faces.

“Today’s votes were designed to fail.  They were designed to maximize partisan differences, and minimize our ability to find the common ground needed to actually make progress and save lives.  That is an outrage.

“On background checks, had there been a real search for common ground, there would have been a vote on the bipartisan legislation that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and I authored in 2013 and that I still support. In fact, Sen. Manchin and I filed our proposal again as an amendment last week in the hopes of getting it acted upon today.  Instead, the Senate considered a different extreme background check amendment that had even less bipartisan support.

“On the issue of keeping guns away from terrorists, rather than considering compromise legislation that I have introduced or that is being worked on by Sen. Collins (R-Maine) and others, we once again voted on previously defeated proposals that had no meaningful level of bipartisan support.

“There should be a sensible middle ground on issues such as expanded background checks and keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists, but today’s votes mark another missed opportunity to find it.  When I first dove into the gun safety effort after the Sandy Hook shootings, I worked across party lines, since that was the only way to get something done. Today, bipartisanship is needed more than ever on this issue that cries out for action.  Today, we did not get that.  But I will not give up, and in the days and weeks to come, I remain determined to achieve real results for the American people, whose safety depends on it.”

12 Responses

  1. You could certainly see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  2. SW Citizen — hear, hear. These were cloture votes. Had the Ds joined the Rs on their bills (did not expect the opposite), the R bills could have made it the floor to be considered, perhaps improved, perhaps passed. Maybe the Rs were bluffing. What a missed opportunity to find out.

  3. Looks like The_New_Liberal_Lion and Gmbb2 are on the “don’t understand the English language and basic sentence structure” side of that unholy alliance.

  4. New Liberal Lion, I find your argument not only persuasive, but compelling. Your statistics are unassailable.

    I will happily turn in my AR-15s, and do my best to make due with my AK-47s, my semi auto .308s and .300 Win Mags, my 50 BMG and a tactical 12 gauge shotguns. They are all far less dangerous, and America will be safer.

    You have won the day, sir/madam. I look forward to reading more of your works. What are your thoughts on eliminating the Constitutional rights found in the 8th Amendment? That could make us safer as well. Until then!

  5. We can’t wait to get 9, you count ’em…NINE…Senate seats back from you rednecks. Then you can kiss your AR-15’s goodbye.

    70% of gun owners are Liberals. We own the topic of gun control. Let that sink in with all you christian white guys who have to hide your porno from your wives who are no doubt running around on you anyway due to the fact that you feel the need to be so “tough” by walking around your house with your firearm strapped to your waistline.

  6. The modern attempt to rewrite the Second Amendment such that it only protects the rights of a “well regulated militia” represents an unholy alliance of the intellectually dishonest Left and those who don’t understand the English language and basic sentence structure.

    As SW Citizen indicated, the Court’s opinion in Heller clearly distinguishes the prefatory clause (“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State”) from the operative clause (“the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”). The opinion also goes to great lengths in explaining the historical context underlying the prefatory clause.

    The jury’s still out on whether Senator Feinstein understands those points, or just doesn’t care enough about the Constitution to seriously engage them.

  7. Sarah: Constitutionality is in the eye of the Supreme Court, and according to it’s Heller decision, there is no “militia” limitation on an individual’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms. And there is no legal definition of “assault weapon.” That’s a made up term to describe any gun that looks scary. An AR-15 available for purchase by the general public would never be used by any military. Do you find yourself often shot? And is anyone arguing that it’s OK to shoot someone?

  8. …Cornyn’s bill depends on the FISA courts, which are in and of themselves constitutionally questionable. I would argue it is my constitutional right not to be shot by someone who was just exercising their second amendment rights – assuming you believe anyone with an assault weapon counts as a “well-regulated militia” to begin with – as the part of the constitution that talks about deprivation of life without due process comes well before the 2nd amendment.

    So I guess constitutionality is in the eye of the beholder here.

  9. What bias by Nick Field! Why not title the article PA-Sen: Casey votes against the Secure our Homeland from radical Islamists by Enhancing Law enforcement Detection (“SHIELD”) Act. Democrat Joe Manchin supported it, along with Toomey. Casey voted no.

  10. This is a carryover from the last Toomey story, but is it too much too much to ask that you control advocates at least give the appearance of being intellectually honest?

    Four measures voted on in the Senate yesterday, all aimed at hindering those who would carry out acts of terror. Two were introduced by Democrats and two by Republicans – each needed 60 votes to advance. Just as the Republicans blocked the Democratic proposals from reaching 60 votes, the Democrats blocked the Republican proposals.

    Elizabeth Warren and Chris Murphy’s response? “The @SenateGOP have decided to sell weapons to ISIS.” What a joke.

    Of the 4 measures proposed, Feinstein’s is plainly unconstitutional and would be rightfully struck down by virtually every court that heard a challenge to it. One branch of government – the Executive, through the Atty. General – cannot unilaterally and permanently suspend an individual right guaranteed under the Constitution without affording the individual any meaningful ability to contest the action. In the United States, we have this little nugget called “Due Process.”

    Compare that to John Cornyn’s bill, which would permit the Executive branch to block sales to suspected terrorists for three days, during which time a judge could hear the Atty. General’s argument, then permanently block the sale if the court found probable cause that the individual was involved in terrorist activity.

    Whatever you think of Cornyn’s bill on the merits, at least it’s constitutional. But that’s of little importance to Feinstein and her ilk, who have spent a career demonstrating that they either don’t understand the Constitution or don’t care about it, depending on the day.

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