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McGinty, Toomey Spar Over How To Deal With Gun Violence

Matt Rourke
Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidates Republican Pat Toomey, left, and Democrat Katie McGinty take part in a debate at Temple University in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016.

Following the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey won praise from Democrats by putting his name on a bill, the Toomey-Manchin amendment, which would have required a background check on all gun sales.

“I worked with my colleagues. I actually wrote my own bill,” Toomey said. “I worked with (Maine Senator) Susan Collins who had a bi-partisan bill. There were only a handful of Republican votes for it, but I was one of them.”

The Toomey-Manchin amendment would have expanded the current law requiring checks on purchases from federally licensed gun dealers to include checks on sales at gun shows and on internet sales. The bill, however, stopped short of requiring them of family members and friends giving or selling guns to each other.

But in the wake of the mass shooting in June at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Katie McGinty, the Democratic candidate who is challenging Toomey’s re-election bid, maintained that the Republican senator “disavowed” any attempt to advance the Toomey-Manchin amendment.

“It’s clear that this is a politically opportunistic thing for him,” McGinty said. “He lent his name for one brief moment in time to a piece of legislation. He dropped it like a hot potato as soon as the public attention turned away. After Orlando and (the December 2015 terrorist attack in) San Bernardino, he was literally begged to re-introduce that legislation. His words, not mine: no, let Democrats take the lead.”

But not all Democrats are taking Toomey to task at this point. And some are even endorsing his re-election efforts because of the stand he has taken on guns.

“Gabby Giffords, a Democratic Congresswoman from Arizona, has endorsed me in this race,” said Toomey. “She was shot in the head and very severely wounded by a deranged individual. So, I think that makes it very clear that I’ve been dedicated to this.”

McGinty meanwhile has acknowledged that most gun owners believe that there should be “common sense” gun laws. 

“I think in Pennsylvania we respect and celebrate our sportsman’s heritage,” says McGinty. “My own brothers were hunters. Deer season would come around and they’d be very, very excited. But responsible gun owners (also) say we shouldn’t be having criminals or the mentally infirm having unfettered access to dangerous weapons.”

McGinty has supported the stricter Democratic-crafted bans involving the terror watch list. She also supports an assault weapons ban as well as a ban on high-capacity magazines.