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Editorial: Toomey’s common-sense solution to gun law loophole |

Editorial: Toomey’s common-sense solution to gun law loophole


Listen to squabbles about gun control and you are bound to hear one question come up, either from frustrated proponents of limits or aggrieved champions of the Second Amendment.

Why don’t we just enforce the rules we already have?

If the two sides would actually listen to each other, they might realize that they have this one crucial area where they agree, and that might be a start to finding answers.

It is, perhaps, unsurprising that — while Pittsburgh is passing restrictions and a state legislator is proposing an annual registry — a rare Republican with common-sense gun control credentials has seized on the idea of not reinventing the wheel. Instead, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, would like to stop the wheel from wobbling.

Right to bear arms not withstanding, there are a number of checks in the system already. The question for some is whether there are enough. It’s a fair question, but paying attention to what we should already be enforcing is definitely within our grasp, so why not start there?

Toomey no doubt learned this from his failed 2013 bid with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to institute universal federal background checks after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Now he just wants to take the checks that are being done and make sure the information is shared.

“When a person has been convicted of a crime and is disqualified from purchasing a gun and attempts to do so, that person is committing a crime,” Toomey said. “The FBI very seldom prosecutes those cases, but the state attorneys general might want to prosecute them.”

Pennsylvania does. For more than 20 years, failing a background check triggers a glance. In addition to the fact that the attempt alone is illegal, there have been other crimes uncovered and fugitive arrests made. Thousands of people have been taken off the streets because of simply following the letter of the already written law.

But that doesn’t happen in most states. Toomey thinks what works in Pennsylvania can work everywhere, and he has bipartisan supporters who agree.

And all it might take to fix this particular wheel is paying attention to the people — all of the people — complaining about the squeak and asking for the grease.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
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