Fox News host Bill Hemmer pressed Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey on “America’s Newsroom” Monday over his calls to expand background checks on gun sales.
Toomey indicated he was “cautiously” optimistic that lawmakers will pass “common sense measures” regarding gun legislation to make it difficult for the dangerous and mentally ill to obtain firearms. The senator said shootings tend to be placed into one category when the circumstances of such incidents are different.
“Give me what you would consider common sense solutions,” Hemmer said.
“I’ve long believed that we could expand background checks to include all commercial sales,” the senator replied. “Sales at gun shows, sales that are advertised over the internet, sales that are in a sense commercial in nature and the seller doesn’t know the buyer, a background check makes sense. They can be done very quickly. Most firearm purchases do require background checks today, we could expand it to all commercial sales.”
Toomey also noted that he backs making gun trafficking a federal offense, increasing school security and mental health services and encouraging states to impose red flag laws. Red flag laws permit law enforcement officials to request a court order from a judge to temporarily pull guns out of the hands of a person posing a dangerous or violent threat. (RELATED: Schumer Says There’s No Imminent Gun Bill, ‘Americans Can Cast Their Vote In November’)
“If you expanded your criminal background checks, Sandy Hook could have still happened,” Hemmer pressed. “If you expanded criminal background checks, what happened in Uvalde, Texas, could still have happened.”
The senator said there is no “panacea” when it comes to preventing mass killings and that the only solution is to make it difficult for dangerous or violent individuals to obtain firearms.
“That doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do to make it harder for that person to get a gun,” he continued.
In 2012, 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza opened fire and killed 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Similarly, suspected gunman Salvador Ramos killed 19 children and two fourth-grade teachers May 24 inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Senate Democrats and Republicans met in late May to discuss possible gun control legislation after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appointed Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn to lead the bipartisan effort. Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who is leading the effort among Democrats, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday’s “State of the Union” that the Senate needs to independently handle the negotiations.
Hemmer asked Toomey if Congress will bring federal legislation on gun safety forward by the end of the week. The senator said he doubts there will be a vote but there may possibly be a drafted plan on addressing the issue.
Toomey previously co-sponsored a bill with Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin to strengthen background checks on firearm sales by extending them to gun shows and to change interstate travel laws for gun owners. The proposed legislation would not take guns out of the hands of law-abiding owners, ban any type of firearm or create a national registry, according to a document released by Toomey’s office.
In 2019, Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham negotiated a red flag law in the aftermath of mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, though it failed to pass a filibuster.