HAMLIN — Republican Senator Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia say they have come up with a proposal to expand background checks on gun purchases and close the so-called gun show loophole.
It’s a compromise they hope will win support from both Democrats and Republicans.
In reaching a deal on background checks, Toomey said he believes he’s representing what a majority of Pennsylvanians want: guns out of the hands of crooks and crazy people.
We talked to gun owners in Wayne County about the proposal.
Polls have shown Pennsylvanians are overwhelmingly in favor of background checks before all gun purchases.
Fred Sakacs of Lake Ariel was checking out a handgun at Hunter’s Gallery in Hamlin.
“I don’t think anyone wants to see someone who doesn’t deserve a gun to have one, especially an assault weapon,” Fred Sakacs of Lake Ariel.
He doesn’t oppose background check requirements but is glad this gun proposal in Washington doesn’t go further.
“I believe firmly in the Second Amendment and I don’t like them messing around with the gun laws, to tell you the truth. But I also don’t want to see someone who’s been in jail and get an AR-15”
Senator Toomey says that’s his reasoning, too. In becoming the center of a gun control compromise in Washington, Toomey said he didn’t want to interfere with the right to bear arms, but felt Congress needed to accomplish something on the issue.
“Pennsylvania has a long bipartisan position of supporting gun rights and I’ve been proud to be part of that tradition and I continue to be. I’m a gun owner and the rights enshrined in the Second Amendment are important to me personally,” said Senator Toomey.
Right now, if you want to buy any gun at a store in Pennsylvania, you have to undergo a background check. This proposal would require you to undergo a background check to buy any gun, at gun shows, online, pretty much anywhere.
Pennsylvania already requires background checks for handguns at gun shows. This would go even further, nationwide.
“I see nothing wrong with that. I don’t want nutcases running around with guns,” said Bill Cooney.
While many Pennsylvania gun owners are okay with background checks, some like Cooney of Mount Cobb question if any gun laws will prevent mass shootings.
“We have a people problem. These guys are going cuckoo. Fortunately there’s only a few of them. If we had thousands of them, that’s a different story.”
We asked people on Facebook what they think of the proposal. It led to quite a debate. Some say background checks are good, some say that’s not enough, and some say there are no restrictions that can prevent gun violence.
The proposal is set to be debated in the Senate Thursday.