Af­ter gun votes, Toomey slides to C rat­ing from NRA

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Marc Levy

HAR­RIS­BURG >> Repub­li­can U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey will not get an en­dorse­ment from the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion, and his rat­ing dropped by two grades af­ter he went against gun rights groups and his party lead­er­ship to vote for an ex­pan­sion of back­ground checks.

The Penn­syl­va­nia sen­a­tor’s new C rat­ing is a down­grade from the A rat­ing and hearty en­dorse­ment the NRA gave him when he last ran in 2010 in the Demo­cratic-lean­ing state, whose res­i­dents are pas­sion­ate about hunt­ing and guns.

Toomey is run­ning in a hotly con­tested race that could de­ter­mine con­trol of the Se­nate. His Demo­cratic chal­lenger, Katie McGinty, fa­vors a much broader range of gun con­trol mea­sures than he does.

Find­ing com­pro­mise on gun con­trol be­came some­thing of a sig­na­ture is­sue in Toomey’s first term. And de­spite the fact that Toomey voted in line with the NRA and gun rights groups on var­i­ous other gun con­trol mea­sures, he is now the rare con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­can to run with the en­dorse­ment of two prom­i­nent gun con­trol ac­tivists, bil­lion­aire in­de­pen­dent for­mer New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and for­mer Demo­cratic con­gress­woman Gabby Gif­fords.

An NRA spokes­woman said Thurs­day that Toomey’s lat­est rat­ing is based on his vot­ing record, in­clud­ing the leg­is­la­tion to re­quire back­ground checks for on­line gun sales and pur­chases at gun shows. Even though the or­ga­ni­za­tion is not re­new­ing its en­dorse­ment of Toomey, spokes­woman Jen­nifer Baker at­tacked McGinty.

McGinty would be a “rub­ber stamp for an anti-gun Supreme Court jus­tice” who would vote to over­turn the Heller de­ci­sion, Baker said, re­fer­ring to the high court’s 2008 de­ci­sion that de­ter­mined Amer­i­cans have the right to keep and bear arms for self-de­fense.

McGinty’s cam­paign spokesman, Sean Coit, replied that McGinty “wants to pass com­mon-sense gun safety laws. Pat Toomey and the NRA don’t . ... The NRA at­tack­ing Katie tells you all you need to know about which can­di­date is on the side of gun safety in this race.”

McGinty drew an F rat­ing from the NRA, un­sur­pris­ing given her sup­port for gun con­trol mea­sures in­clud­ing ban­ning the sale of mil­i­tary-style weapons and im­pos­ing a fed­eral limit on mag­a­zine ca­pac­ity. McGinty is en­dorsed by the gun con­trol group Cease­Fire Penn­syl­va­nia.

The back­ground checks bill failed most re­cently 5048 in De­cem­ber, with just four Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing Toomey, back­ing it and all but one Demo­crat sup­port­ing it.

The NRA is the lat­est in a grow­ing line of gun rights groups that have de­clined to en­dorse Toomey. For Toomey, it may help him with a Repub­li­can’s peren­ni­ally thorny task of ap­peal­ing to mod­er­ates in a state where Democrats out­num­ber Repub­li­cans by a 4-3 ra­tio. But it could hurt him with the Repub­li­can base.

Toomey has de­fended his vot­ing record, say­ing he sees no con­flict be­tween the right to own a gun and “a three-minute back­ground check.”

“As with many is­sues, we will only achieve progress on com­mon­sense gun safety mea­sures if we work to build bi­par­ti­san con­sen­sus, rather than talk past each other with more par­ti­san­ship,” the Toomey cam­paign said.

Cur­rently, the checks are only re­quired for trans­ac­tions from li­censed gun deal­ers.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey

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