Toomey says he won't take new shot at gun bill

ASSOCIATED PRESS President Obama called Congress' rejection of a bill, pushed by Sens. Pat Toomey (right) and Joe Manchin, proposing increased background checks for gun purchases "shameful."
ASSOCIATED PRESS President Obama called Congress' rejection of a bill, pushed by Sens. Pat Toomey (right) and Joe Manchin, proposing increased background checks for gun purchases "shameful."
Posted: April 28, 2013

WASHINGTON - Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) dismissed talk Friday that he might take a second run at passing new gun laws, even as a new poll found voters in the state giving him high marks for backing a bipartisan plan to expand background checks.

"My own view is very simple: The Senate has had its vote. We've seen the outcome of that vote. I am not aware of any reason to believe that if we had the vote again that we'd have a different outcome," Toomey said on a conference call.

He was responding to a question about a New York Times report that Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) was working on tweaking the bill the two cosponsored with an eye toward another vote.

Their original plan to expand background checks to gun shows and online sales got 54 of the 60 Senate votes it needed to advance last week and has since been shelved.

Even though it fell short, Pennsylvania voters gave Toomey credit for what he did, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday.

He saw a four-point bump in his approval rating from last month, giving him a 48 percent rating among Pennsylvania voters, his highest ever; 30 percent disapproved of his job performance.

It's a "very modest increase, but it's a measurable increase," said G. Terry Madonna, a pollster at Franklin and Marshall College.

It's also consistent with what most political analysts predicted, since Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly support expanded background checks.

More than half of voters surveyed - 54 percent (and 71 percent of Democrats) - said they thought more favorably of Toomey because of his compromise. Only 12 percent thought less favorably of him, the poll found.

But only 34 percent approved of Toomey's stand on guns, against 29 percent who disapproved.

The gap between those who approve of Toomey's specific views and those who think more highly of him seems to reflect a desire for compromise and bipartisanship, even when voters disagree with the final stand.

Manchin has said he wanted to keep working on the background-check plan, but since the night of the vote Toomey has consistently said he would return to the fiscal issues with which he has long been identified.

"Until we have such reason to believe that we'd have a different outcome, I think the issue is resolved by the Senate," Toomey said Friday. "I've turned my attention to the fiscal and economic matters that I've normally focused on."

Indeed, his conference call focused on bills approved this week to provide the budget flexibility to ease furloughs affecting air travel.

But Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) said he hoped for a second try at the gun bills.

"There is more willingness to try again than I would have expected," he said Friday.

He said he hoped there would be a continued push not only for background checks, but also for controls on firearms magazines and assault rifles, both of which he supported.

"I just hope we don't limit it to background checks," he said.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,235 registered voters from Sunday to Wedmesday. The poll has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.


Contact Jonathan Tamari at jtamari@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @JonathanTamari. Read his blog, "Capitol Inq," at www.philly.com/CapitolInq.

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