- The Washington Times
Thursday, April 11, 2013

With a deal on gun background checks finally done, Sens. Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin have another difficult task ahead: selling the American people and their colleagues in Congress on the specifics.

“This does nothing to infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens. If it did, I wouldn’t be for it,” said Mr. Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican, during a joint appearance with Mr. Manchin on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday. It was one of the first steps the two men, who may have saved a larger deal on gun legislation, will take in pushing their legislation.

“I really feel pretty comfortable defending the proposition that it makes a lot of sense to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. I’m very confident I can defend that,” he said, also telling the American people to “read the bill.”

Mr. Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, Second Amendment champion and favorite of the National Rifle Association, said the gun owners of his state and all across the U.S. ought to get on board with the legislation once they fully understand it.

“If people would just take time to read the bill and understand … basically it’s just meant to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” he said. “You have to go out and sell this … the people have to read the bill.”

The proposal eliminates the so-called “gun show loophole” and takes other steps to strengthen the background check system. It addresses what had been a key sticking point by allowing family members to pass on guns as gifts.

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The legislation explicitly prohibits the establishment of a national gun registry, and Mr. Manchin said he and Mr. Toomey want the act of keeping such records to be a federal crime.

“It’s a felony if someone keeps records. That’s how strongly we feel that that can’t be done, shouldn’t be done,” Mr. Manchin said.

The Senate is expected to begin taking up a larger gun control package on Thursday. Senators are expected to offer amendments to ban military-style semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines, though neither one of those appears to have the 60 votes needed to pass.

“I think they’ll all fail,” Mr. Toomey said, referring to any amendments that in his words infringe on Second Amendment rights.

The Manchin-Toomey background checks deal appears to have the necessary 60 votes to clear the Senate.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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