The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 11, 2013

Toomey advances background checks

The Daily Item

— Conservative gun state senators, Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have negotiated passable amendment to gun control legislation that addresses broad public support for expanded background checks while preserving the rights of families and friends to share an enthusiasm for firearms.

Key points in their agreement include closing the background check loopholes for gun shows and Internet sales while exempting private transfers, within families and liberalizing conceal carry regulations so gun owners with those permits can travel without breaking laws when they cross into another state.

Candidly, the proposed bipartisan amendment is fig leaf legislation against gun violence, tiny enough to deter avenging gun lobbyists, but somehow sufficient to cover the essential dimensions of Washington’s shame.

Responsible online gun dealers, auctioneers and even many gun show participants have been channeling transactions through licensed dealers in Pennsylvania. Dealers regularly run background checks quickly with the help of the state police, which pose no risk to legitimate sales, and maintain records as required in their shops, obviating the possibility of a national data registry that would lead to confiscation.  

For those few who circumvent this process, the Manchin-Toomey compromise will simply pull them into alignment with the vast majority of legitimate gun sales conducted by law-abiding people.

This national dialogue began nearly five months ago with the murders of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Although it is not yet completed, it has been a revealing experience for many Americans.

Many of us have learned more about the regulatory landscape for firearms, the effectiveness of existing laws, the consistency of enforcement and the probabilities that specific approaches will significantly reduce gun violence. It is hard to dispute that measures to better address mental illness and examine semi-addictive qualities of violent video games would be an equally valid response to the high profile murder sprees that engendered this national conversation.

Any one bill that attempts to address the many and varied risks associated with our cultural and constitutional relationship to guns seems doomed to gather more intense opposition than support.

The Toomey-Manchin bipartisan amendment would honor the memory of 20 little children with national action that most American support.

If this idea makes it all the way to the House of Representatives, we urge Valley Congressmen Thomas Marino and Lou Barletta to receive it with fair and open minds.