PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — At the White House gathering on gun safety, President Donald Trump accused Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of being afraid of the National Rifle Association for not raising the firearms purchase age to 21 in the Manchin-Toomey background check bill.
Trump: “So I am just curious what you did in your bill?”
Toomey: “We didn’t address it, Mr. President.”
Trump: “You know why? Because you’re afraid of the NRA, right.”
Toomey tried to disagree at the meeting.
“My reservation about it is that the vast majority of 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds in Pennsylvania who have a rifle or a shotgun, they’re not a threat to anyone. They are law-abiding citizens,” said Toomey.
When he first ran for Senate in 2010, Toomey was endorsed by the NRA.
And during his early congressional career took over $27,000 from the NRA directly and $883,000 in independent support.
But that changed after he was elected to the Senate and embraced tougher background checks in a bi-partisan bill with Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
“It would require background checks for all commercial sales, which is to say sales at gun shows or over the internet,” said Toomey.
Manchin-Toomey closes the gun show loophole and bans gun purchases for those on the no-fly list.
But it still allows private sales of firearms between friends and family members without a background check.
The NRA dropped Toomey’s rating from an A to a C, and he has received no money from them since 2010.
On Thursday, Toomey preferred to focus on the president’s support for Manchin-Toomey as the basis for Congress acting.
“I think the big take-away from this meeting is that he wants to get something done. Broadening background checks would be the centerpiece of it, and we ought to consider a whole range of other items,” he said.
Toomey’s office suggested the president’s comments on fear of the NRA were directed at all the participants and not specifically at Toomey.
But, regardless, the Manchin-Toomey background check bill — which could not get 60 filibuster proof votes in 2013 — could be back on the table in 2018.
Toomey thinks in the current environment it might have a better chance.