U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey (R–Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D–W.Va.) have reached a compromise on gun law reform and today unveiled a long-awaited bipartisan bill.
"Pennsylvania has a long, bipartisan tradition of supporting gun rights," Toomey said in a statement.
"I am a proud part of that tradition. I am a gun owner. I revere the rights enshrined in our Second Amendment. My record shows this.
"Criminal background checks are just common sense. If you pass a criminal background check, you can buy a gun. It's the people who fail a criminal or mental health background check that we don't want having guns. That can be done without infringing on law-abiding people's gun rights. And we ought to do it."
The resulting legislation, "The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act," contains a little something for everyone – or, alternately, a little something for everyone to complain about.
The bill proposes expanding background checks to include gun show and online sales and creating a 12-person commission – six experts appointed by the Senate Majority Leader and six experts appointed by the Speaker of the House – tasked with studying the causes of mass violence in the U.S.
But the legislation would exempt from background checks those who temporarily transfer guns or transfer firearms between family members, friends or neighbors.
It would also ban the federal government from creating a national firearms registry and make the misuse or illegal retention of firearm records a felony punishable by up to 15 years in jail.
The bill doesn't propose banning or restricting any type of firearm, bullet or clip or magazine capacity.
Provisions of the bill that are more left-leaning include:
- Restricting federal funds to states who do not submit necessary records to the NICS
- Protecting sellers from lawsuits if the weapon they sold was cleared through expanded background checks, then used in a crime.
- Requiring the cancellation of a gun show sale if a background check doesn't result in a definitive NICS response within 48 hours. That time frame will narrow to 24 hours after expected NICS improvements are completed in four years.
- Mandating the FBI to prioritize gun show background checks over storefront dealership checks.
On the more conservative side, the legislation proposes:
- Fixing interstate travel laws to protect sportsmen who transport their firearms across state lines responsibly.
- Allowing dealers to complete transactions at gun shows in states where they're not residents and to conduct interstate handgun sales.
- Authorizing the use of a state concealed carry permit instead of a background check when a firearm is purchased from a dealer.
- Allowing active military to buy firearms in their home states.