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June 25, 2015

Toomey says revisiting gun control bill 'not likely'

Republican senator expresses disappointment over political hurdles in MSNBC interview

Pat Toomey, U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, said Wednesday morning that making another attempt at legislation to beef up background checks for gun purchases was something he'd like to do but noted that the possibility of passing it was "not likely."

In an interview with "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, Toomey, a Republican, was asked about the possibility of reintroducing legislation similar to a bill he and Sen. Joe Manchin (D.-W.Va.) put on the Senate floor in 2012 following the Sandy Hook shooting. That bill would have created mandatory background checks for commercial gun purchases.

Toomey said that he'd like to but did not seem hopeful that such a bill could pass in the Senate. 

"Honestly, I don't want to build up any false expectations," Toomey told MSBNC. "I'm not aware that we've got the votes to do what Sen. Manchin and I attempted."

That legislation, which caught flak from gun groups when it was introduced in 2012, failed in 2013 when several Democrats backed off their support and few Republicans other than Toomey voted for it. When asked about the unsuccessful legislation on Wednesday, Toomey stressed that it would have only prevented criminals and those mentally unfit from buying guns.

"We all agree that people in those two categories shouldn't have guns, and that's not a controversial idea," Toomey said, "Unfortunately, it became controversial to establish a procedure to broaden the background checks."

Toomey said he would discuss the issue with his colleagues in the Senate but didn't sound hopeful that the recent shooting in Charleston that took the lives of nine African-Americans in a historically black church could overturn cemented political positions.

The senator received an award Wednesday from the Sandy Hook Promise organization for his work to curb gun violence. The organization's mission is to prevent gun violence against children following the 2012 shooting that killed 26 people in a Connecticut school.