Leading up to Thursday’s first procedural vote on gun control legislation in the Senate, one progressive gun group took a moment to give credit where it’s due.
The Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition praised two senators for reaching a deal aimed at expanding background checks. As an extra thank you, the anti-gun violence group pulled its ads in Pennsylvania following the announcement of the Manchin-Toomey deal.
The group previously aired ads encouraging Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania to take stricter gun control legislation to Washington. On Wednesday, Toomey reached a deal with Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia–both of whom have held ‘A’ ratings from the National Rifle Association–which would require background checks for firearms purchases, including sales online and at gun shows.
“Over the last few months, Americans across the country and in both parties have demanded that those in Washington take commonsense steps to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the seriously mentally ill,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “I want to thank Senators Manchin and Toomey for their determination to find common ground on a bill that Democrats and Republicans can fully support. This bill will not only help keep guns out of the wrong hands–it will help save lives and keep our communities safe.”
Fellow co-chair, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, applauded the senators’ efforts. “Today’s announcement of a bipartisan Senate agreement to require background checks for virtually all commercial gun sales shows that, even in an age of Washington gridlock, both parties can work together to reform our gun laws in a way that makes sense and keeps Americans safe. I applaud Senators Toomey and Manchin for putting forth a commonsense bill that will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Menino in a statement. “We’ve seen far too many American lives lost over the years–now is the time for the rest of Congress to stand with the American people and pass sensible gun reform for the sake of our neighborhoods, our families, and our children.”
The breakthrough deal gives a much needed jolt to President Obama’s push for new gun limits, which have struggled to get bipartisan support from lawmakers.
Toomey himself admitted he still might vote against a background checks bill if he thinks it could infringe on any Second Amendment rights. “I’m looking forward to the debate. I’m hopeful, but I think this is a fluid situation,” said Toomey at a press conference.
Obama called the agreement an encouraging sign in a statement issued on Wednesday. “This is not my bill, and there are aspects of the agreement that I might prefer to be stronger. But the agreement does represent welcome and significant bipartisan progress,” said the president.
Manchin spoke with some family members of the Newtown shooting victims face-to-face on Wednesday afternoon. When asked by a reporter about the meeting, a teary-eyed Manchin said, “I’m a parent, I’m a grandparent…. I can’t imagine this.”