Last week’s mass school shooting in Florida, once again, left a significant portion of the country angry with the permissiveness of American gun laws. There have been rumblings of increased gun control over the past week, but will the country’s latest school shooting prompt actual policy change this time around? Pennsylvania Sen. Patrick Toomey, a Republican, thinks there’s a political opportunity to push for expanded background checks on firearm purchases and plans to introduce legislation that would expand background checks to all commercial sales of guns. “It does feel like we have a shot at getting a little bit of momentum on background checks,” Toomey told the Washington Post. “We’re going to take a swing at that and I’m hoping we’ll be able to do it.”
This isn’t Sen. Toomey’s first legislative pass at expanding background checks. In 2013, following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 schoolchildren between the ages of 6 and 7, Toomey teamed up with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, on a bipartisan measure to expand required background checks to online sales and unlicensed gun-show dealers. After a bruising, weekslong Senate debate, the bipartisan bill failed to clear the 60-vote hurdle. With the NRA refusing to endorse the changes and exerting pressure on vulnerable members of both parties, the measure mustered 54 votes, including four Republicans. Four Democratic Senators from conservative rural states—Montana, Alaska, North Dakota, and Arkansas—voted against the measure.