Senate’s gridlock on gun control sparks Philly protests

Protesters took to the streets outside Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s Center City offices Tuesday, blaming Toomey for the Senate’s inaction Monday on four gun control bills.

Toomey, specifically, was bashed by protesters for his “no” vote on Sen. Diane Feinstein’s bill to ban people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns. He also voted against expanding background checks on gun purchases at gun shows and online.

“Toomey took a couple of unfortunate votes last night and there werea lot of people who were really upset and wanted to let him know,” said David Scholnick, an organizer with Philly for Change, which led Tuesday’s protest.

The bills were introduced after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in which a professed ISIS sympathizer killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 before dying in a shootout with police.

Toomey said the bills didn’t provide enough room for due process, pointing to people who may mistakenly be on the terror watch list having no way to get their names removed.

He announced Tuesday that he will support Maine Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ revised version of a bill to prevent people on the Terror Watch List, also known as the No Fly List, from obtaining guns.

“We must do everything we can to keep guns away from terrorists, while also safeguarding Americans’ constitutional rights.Sen. Collins’ proposal balances both of those essential goals well,” Toomey said in a statement regarding the legislation, referred to as a “No-Fly-No-Buy” bill.

But the activists still aren’t impressed.

“Pat Toomey talks a big game about being a moderate. But he hasn’t done anything good on this issue in over three years,” Scholnick said. “And now, when he’s up for reelection, to start making videos and putting out press releases and talking to the media as if he’s some sort of a hero here is disingenuous, when he has voted in lockstep with the NRA and the Republican Party on vote after vote.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest decried the Senate’s lack of action on gun control legislation Tuesday, calling it “shameful display of cowardice.”

Four gun legislation bills all stalled on Monday as the Orlando shooting on June 12 that saw 49 killed and 53 wounded at a gay nightclub brought increasing public pressure on Congress to enact new gun legislation.

“The Senate defaulted on its basic obligation to keep America safe,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said after no bills passed on Monday. Some in the U.S. Senate believe that there’s nothing our nation, the most powerful in the world, can do to confront gun violence, which killed 33,646 Americans in 2014, but enforce existing law. I refuse to accept that.”

Additional reporting by Reuters