On Sunday, the two senators at the helm of the push for stronger gun laws appeared together on CNN’s State Of The Union, where they gave an impassioned call for action on gun laws and brushed off the idea that it was a political risk to focus on gun legislation.
Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) have proposed a law that would tighten the regulations on firearm sales, requiring that every sale except for private transactions include a criminal background check. While that’s popular among 92 percent of Americans, the National Rifle Association has warned that it’s politically poisonous.
But when host Candy Crowley pointed out the political risks of focusing on gun legislation, citing a Saturday Night Live sketch on the topic, both Manchin and Toomey dismissed the risk, saying that’s not why they are in office:
CROWLEY: Are either one of you worried about any kind of challenge, primary or general?
MANCHIN: Let me just say I know Pat and I have talked, we came here to do something. We came here to make a difference. If you would have met with the families, the strongest people I’ve ever met with, the families of the Newtown victims, they never asked for anybody to take their guns away. They never asked to repeal the second amendment. They said, ‘we’re gun owners and we respect and honor all that.’ We know, and they’ll even say, we know that this bill that you’re working on would not have saved our children. We know that. But it might save somebody else’s child somebody. I mean, if we just had half the courage [the Newtown families] had, Candy, just half the courage. So, yes, I came to do something and I want to do something.
TOOMEY: In 1999 I supported expanding background checks. I just think it makes common sense. And I’ll just let the political chips fall the way they fall.
The Toomey-Manchin proposal made it past an initial filibuster last week, garnering 68 votes (including 16 Republicans) for moving to debate. But not everything that will be included in the bill is yet known, and Senators — particularly Republicans — have been tentative in offering their support for the legislation.