U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) unveiled their long talked about behind-the-scenes amendment to gun control legislation, which would extend the background checks now required at gun stores to sales of firearms at gun shows and online.
“If you go to a gun show, you’ll be treated the same as if you go to a gun store and are subjected to a background check,” Manchin told reporters on Capitol Hill. “Then if you go online you’ll be subjected the same as you are if you buy a gun online in another state.”
The two said they discussed the proposals with stakeholders in all segments of the debate, claiming the Toomey-Manchin Amendment will be acceptable to all sides in the deeply divided controversy.
“I have spoken with all of my friends in the gun state and gun culture of West Virginia — the people who appreciate and enjoy the rights they have — and I explained in detail what the bill does,” said Manchin. “I think I have the support of the most critical gun advocates in the country.”
The measure would not require a background check on personal firearm transfers and does not require private citizen record-keeping on personal sales.
Toomey said the legislation also included several measures which would strengthen Second Amendment rights. Under the amendment those who transport a firearm across state lines for hunting or other purposes would not be subject to criminal prosecution if the simple possession of that firearm, in an otherwise legal manner, violates the regulations of the state through which they are travelling. Both Senators think the amendment’s language also draws the country closer to national reciprocity on concealed carry permits in which all states would recognize a CCP issued by another state.
Manchin said the legislation is common sense and represents action warranted after the tragedy at Newtown.
“Newtown changed everything” he said. “Everybody here wants to make sure we take steps to insure that never happens again. The goal is to make sure people who shouldn’t have them are not going to have access to the guns through a gun show, Internet sales, or a gun store as we have now.”
Additionally, Manchin said the legislation would open greater dialogue on mental health issues and violent entertainment and consider what impact it has on gun violence in America.
Soon after the Manchin-Toomey news conference, the National Rifle Association issued a statement claiming the amendment is not a solution:
Expanding background checks at gun shows will not prevent the next shooting, will not solve violent crime and will not keep our kids safe in schools. While the overwhelming rejection of President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg’s “universal” background check agenda is a positive development, we have a broken mental health system that is not going to be fixed with more background checks at gun shows. The sad truth is that no background check would have prevented the tragedies in Newtown, Aurora or Tucson. We need a serious and meaningful solution that addresses crime in cities like Chicago, addresses mental health deficiencies, while at the same time protecting the rights of those of us who are not a danger to anyone. President Obama should be as committed to dealing with the gang problem that is tormenting honest people in his hometown as he is to blaming law-abiding gun owners for the acts of psychopathic murderers.
Manchin said he has been assured by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) the amendment will be given top priority in the floor debate.