Over the weekend, in a move that may shock the gun community, an influential pro-gun organizations publicly endorsed the universal background check amendment drafted by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).
The Citizens Committee for the Right To Keep and Bear Arms announced that it would back the Manchin-Toomey UBC legislation; a bipartisan amendment that expands background checks to gun purchases made over the Internet and eliminates the so-called ‘gun-show’ loophole.
“We decided to back it because we believe it is the right thing to do,” Julianne Versnel, director of operations for the CCRKBA, told theWashington Post.
Alan Gottlieb, the chairman of the CCRKBA, blasted out an email to the group’s 650,000 members on Sunday explaining in greater detail why they opted to support the Manchin-Toomey compromise.
“If you read the Manchin-Toomey substitute amendment, you can see all the advances for our cause that it contains,” Gottlieb wrote.
Gottlieb then pitched the specific perks the amendment contains: “interstate sales of handguns, veteran gun rights restoration, travel with firearms protection, civil and criminal immunity lawsuit protection, and most important of all, the guarantee that people, including federal officers, will go to federal prison for up to 15 years if they attempt to use any gun sales records to set up a gun registry.”
Gottlieb added that the “advances” in the legislation could not be achieved “unless we win the Senate vote on Tuesday to substitute Sens. Manchin and Toomey’s balanced approach” to background checks.
When compared to the current language on background checks in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s baseline bill, which was penned by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Manchin-Toomey amendment is much less restrictive in that it has background check exemptions for transactions and sales between friends, family and neighbors (for more on the details, click here).
These exemptions have been a major sticking point for the pro-gun control community. Josh Horwitz, the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, told Business Insider that his organization is very concerned about the exemptions.
“We want people to understand that [under the Manchin-Toomney legislation] there will still be private sales without background checks, which we think is a problem. Not all criminals buy guns at gun shows or the Internet. A lot of them just go to their friends,” Horwitz said. “That’s why you have to have universal background checks.”
Following the CCRKBA announcement, Manchin appeared on Fox News to tout the growing support for the 49-page proposal.
“You can imagine for what, the last two or three months, that all you heard is they’re going to take this away from you and that away,” Manchin said.
“And the bottom line is when you have a group now — Alan Gottlieb, the chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said, ‘We read the bill, we like the bill’ and it protects law-abiding gun owners like myself. And they are supporting it now. That is huge.”