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Local reaction to lawmakers' gun law deal mixed

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 10 2013 03:27:54 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 10 2013 05:06:54 PM CDT

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is in on the ground floor of a plan to expand background checks for gun buyers.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is in on the ground floor of a plan to expand background checks for gun buyers.

The ironic part is Toomey, along with his partner in the plan, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., have received A grades from the National Rifle Association for their pro-gun stances.

The pair promised their proposal will not take away anyone's guns, ban any kind of firearm, or restrict bullet and magazine size.

"Common ground rests on simple proposition that criminals and the dangerous, mentally ill shouldn't have guns," Toomey said.

The senators announced Wednesday what could be the first bipartisan bulls-eye in new gun legislation.

"If it passes, what our measure would do is expand background checks to purchases at gun shows and over the Internet," Toomey said.

Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states that already requires background checks at gun shows.

But under the proposed Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, those background checks, which would now include mental health records, would have to have records proving to law enforcement officials the checks actually took place.

The deal would exempt gun sales and transfers between friends and family.

"Have to make sure the laws we do pass are strictly targeted to those using illegally," said David Green, of Firearm Owners Against Crime, a political action committee for 2nd amendment rights

The current background check system is already filled with delays and mistakes, said Green, who fears that, without fixing the current system, the bill could create a backlog of law-abiding citizens waiting even longer to get their guns.

"So what if it takes an extra day or two to do a background check. I think it's worth the wait. I don't think people need a gun that fast," said Mayor Sal Panto, D-Easton, who is part of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

The proposal isn't perfect but, it shows progress not seen in a long time, Panto said.

The NRA was quick to criticize the plan, saying expanded background checks will not solve crimes or keep kids safe in schools.