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CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript - Gun Legislation


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SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, we want to welcome now another unlikely duo to Face the Nation, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey. And IU use the word "unlikely" not only because only is Republican, one is a Democrat, but because both are gun rights supporters and earn top ratings from the NRA. But last week, they announced a proposal to expand background checks on gun purchases that will be debated in the Senate this week. Your proposal, as I understand it, closes this loophole, which means that people who go to gun shows will have to be subjected to background checks and a record of the sale will be kept, just as it is when you go to a -- to a gun dealer and buy a gun. Have you gotten any Republican support yet, Senator Toomey?

TOOMEY: Yes, there is Republican support. Mark Kirk has been actively engaged in this process, fully supports this approach. Let me stress a couple things, Bob, first thing is, there is not a single word in this legislation that in any way infringes on the Second Amendment rights of a law-abiding citizen, but we think the laws that make it illegal now for a criminal or a potentially violent, dangerously mentally ill person to have a weapon -- that's the law of the land -- we think that makes sense. And we think a background check to help increase the likelihood that we'll be successful in keeping guns out of the hands of very dangerous people, it just makes sense. It's common sense. And so I think when people see the bill, they're going to support it.

SCHIEFFER: You know, Senator Rubio, you just heard Senator Rubio, I think you're going to have a problem with him. He does not seem to think any gun laws, really, as he put it, work.

MANCHIN: Marco is very articulate in saying the things he would like to see in a bill and he could support, and all I'm saying is I hope he has time-- I know he has a busy schedule -- that he has time to read the bill. It's only 49 pages. Everything he just pointed out is in this bill. If you're a law-abiding gun owner, you're going to like this bill. Veterans rights, you're going to like this bill. Now, if you are a criminal or if you have been mentally adjudicated and you go to a gun show or try to buy a gun online, you might not like this bill because you can't do it. And what we've done, we did it right, we shut down the gun show loopholes and online sales. We did not infringe, as Pat just said, we did not infringe on any individual's right, family, tradition of gun owners that we come from, gun culture states where a father can give a son or a relative or a cousin, did not infringe on any of that. And we strengthen the penalties for the states to do their jobs so we can get the NICS records, you know, our background check records, up to par.

SCHIEFFER: I know, Senator, you said after Newtown that it was time that something had to be done. But Senator Toomey what brought you to this place where you are now?

TOOMEY: Bob, I have been in this place since 1999, when it was my first term in the House I voted to expand background checks because I just think it's common sense to try to make it more difficult for criminals and dangerously mentally ill people to obtain weapons. And I acknowledge, there is no single bill that is a panacea for this, nothing guarantees that a committed criminal isn't going to find a way to get a gun, but we can make it more difficult. We can reduce the chances that they'll be successful and that would be some progress without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens.

MANCHIN: Let me just say-- and I think even Marco just said it and I know Pat met with the families. I met with the families of Newtown. These families -- I've never met people with the strength and convictions they have. First of all, they'll come in and say we don't want anybody's guns to be taken away. We don't want any infringements of the Second Amendment to be infringed upon. When they come to you and they're saying, honestly, we know the bill you're working on right now would not have prevented what happened to our babies. But if you can prevent one family from not going what we went through, by keeping the guns out of a mentally deranged person, out of a criminal that could do something, and I keep thinking if we just had half the courage these families had, if we as congress had half of their courage, and the common sense to do the right thing oh, my goodness what, a difference we could make.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Toomey why is this so hard? Why is this such a hard thing?

TOOMEY: You know, I think it's hard because people have misconceptions about what's in this bill, what it does. For instance, they think there's this whole new system that we're created that they have reason to worry about. In fact, we're just working with an existing system, the existing background system that some states have chosen not to provide much information. In the case of the Virginia Tech shooting, for instance, that individual was -- had been adjudicated as dangerously mentally ill. The court system in Virginia knew that, but the state never provided the system to the background check, so when he went to buy a gun he passed the test. Now, under our bill we create greater incentives for states to provide this kind information, so hopefully they will and someone like him might be denied in the future.

MANCHIN: This is not universal, let me be very clear, this is a criminal and mental background check bill only at gun shows and internet sales. There are going to be some people said you didn't go far enough, some are saying you went too far. But if they'll look at the bill, what we did, we did right. And we have cut down the loophole in the gun shows, and those on internet sales, Bob. And that's what we tried to do. And we made no exceptions on that. And you know we're not infringing on people's rights. We're just not infringing on their rights. And a law-abiding gun owner -- I come from a gun culture state of West Virginia.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, let me just...

MANCHIN: Sure...

SCHIEFFER: Stop right there. We're going to talk about this some more, but we've got to take a break here and then we'll be right back with more from these two senators.

SCHIEFFER: Back now with Senators Manchin and Toomey. Senator Toomey, there are going to be a lot of amendments. I mean, this is going to go on for a while. Some people say in the end there may be so many amendments you wind up with looser restrictions on gun sales. How do you counter that?

TOOMEY: I think it's very hard to say what amendments may succeed and which may fail. I'm not sure how many there are going to be. But one we know for sure is going to be ours, and ours I think just strikes the right balance, extending background checks at gun shows we think makes a lot of sense, strengthening the existing background check system makes a lot of sense. And the third piece that we haven't talked much about, Bob, there are a number of provisions in our legislation that allows an of a law-abiding citizen to enjoy their Second Amendment rights. One quick example, for instance, under current law, a veteran can very easily be denied Second Amendment rights, a social worker at the VA can decide that this person is having trouble handling their personal finances, and bingo, they're denied their Second Amendment rights. We create a mechanism by which they can simply challenge and adjudicate that. It's very reasonable.

SCHIEFFER: What will be the toughest thing here to get this past?

MANCHIN: I think to get an honest look at the bill. If they'll just look at the bill -- and that's all we said, it's only 49 pages, it's not that long. We've had breakdowns on our web sites we have for everyone to see, sent it to all of our colleagues. If they'll look at the bill, and everything that they've heard about -- they said registration. You can't register, it's illegal to register. You can do a background check and you can keep a record, but by law today we doubled down, Pat and I, and basically said if any agency tries to do a registration to have a national registry it's a felony, 15 years imprisonment. Those kind of...Those kind of restraints aren't there today.

SCHIEFFER: How many votes you think you have right now, would you say?

MANCHIN: Well, we're close. We need more.

SCHIEFFER: You need more?

TOOMEY: We're close. We're working it. We're discussing with colleagues on both sides. We've got bipartisan support, but there's bipartisan opposition, so...

SCHIEFFER: Well, you've mentioned one Republican. Do you have any other republicans at this point?

TOOMEY: We have others that we're confident about. I'm not sure they've announced it, so I don't want to announce it.

MANCHIN: Well, I was proud to see Susan Collins came out openly. She's on record...

SCHIEFFER: That was last night.

MANCHIN: Last night. And Susan, just -- what a beautiful lady, but she's just -- she's got courage.

SCHIEFFER: So where -- where do you see -- how do you see this debate unfolding now? I mean, how soon will your amendment be offered?

TOOMEY: Well, I think it's likely that we'll have the vote by Wednesday or Thursday.

SCHIEFFER: On -- on your bill?

MANCHIN: We're going to start tomorrow. Pat and I will start on the floor tomorrow around 2:00, 2:30, and we're going to talk about the bill and go through it line by line, section by section, every misnomer out there, every falsehood that we can talk about, to bring light to it. This will go on. And I think, the more that people will take time to learn more about this bill, we'll get more support. And if they give their support to their -- to their representatives, I think, maybe, they'll see the right (ph).

SCHIEFFER: Are you -- are the two of you going to be together on...


SCHIEFFER: ... on all of these votes that are going to be coming here, or...

TOOMEY: Well, we don't know what votes are coming, so...


... it's hard to say that for sure. I mean, I think -- Joe and I are both NRA members with A ratings with the NRA, so chances are, we probably see things roughly the same way, but -- but, until we actually see...


SCHIEFFER: What has the NRA said to you all?

MANCHIN: We've had open discussions. I think everyone should be at the table, and we've been very open and honest and had good discussions. There are some things that they brought up that we have looked at this bill -- when they said, "Listen, we supported this 10 years ago, and the government didn't do its job, DOJ," they were right. So we put penalties and we put incentives to make sure the next records are done and done right. At the end of the day, they won't be with us on this, and I just would hope that they would allow their members to see the facts and let them vote their conscience.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think you'll get any conservative Democrats?

MANCHIN: I do. I really do. And we're pleased with that. But I know some are in very difficult districts. You know, Bob, we came here to do something. We've got a chance to make a difference in people's lives. We have a chance to save lives and not infringe on law-abiding citizens of this country, gun owners like myself and Pat. We had that opportunity and God help us if we don't do it.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask Senator Toomey. Do you think the NRA will penalize you in some way?

TOOMEY: Oh, I -- I don't know. You know, we -- we've had a good relationship over the years. We disagree on this. Bob, you know, the chips will fall where they fall. I think my job is to do what I think is right.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, that's a good place to end this. Thanks to both of you.

MANCHIN: Thank you for having us.


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