PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey says he wants to revive a bipartisan bill to strengthen background checks for gun buyers. He made the announcement Tuesday morning in Philadelphia and tonight, people will gather in South Philly for the city’s largest National Night Out event to combat violence.
They’re putting the final touches on the setup before Tuesday evening’s event. The mass shootings over the weekend and Philly’s own crime rate are weighing heavy on the event, anti-crime activists and lawmakers.
“If it creates a momentum, if it creates an opportunity, then we need to seize that opportunity,” Toomey, a Republican, said.
Using a tragedy to provoke change, Toomey announced three different bills aimed at preventing the next mass shooting.
“What I want to do is focus on what I think we can accomplish now, and that is make it harder for people who shouldn’t have firearms to obtain firearms,” Toomey said.
The bills focus on the background check system. The senator announced a similar sit of bills in 2013 after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, but the bills failed.
He’s now hoping help from a co-sponsor, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, will get the bill passed.
“It is time for us to step forward and say enough is enough and pass legislation that will take guns out of the hands of those we all know shouldn’t have them,” Coons said.
“I’m the first to acknowledge there is no single bill that is going to prevent all such mass shootings. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do all we can to prevent what we can,” Toomey said.
George Mosee is a former prosecutor and executive director of the Philadelphia Anti-Drug, Anti-Violence Network.
“Evidently, the mass shootings aren’t enough to get something to happen because nothing has happened,” Mosee said.
He sees the impact of everyday violence in Philly. The city has had 193 homicides so far this year, which is 7% higher than this time last year.
Mosee says the senators’ bills are a good step forward.
“If we can do anything to limit the number of guns and the kinds of guns on the streets, then I think we can really impact the number of shootings,” Mosee said.
At least one of the bills is co-sponsored by Coons. They plan to formally introduce the legislation when congress reconvenes next month.
Eyewitness News also reached out to Congressman Dwight Evans’ office. Evans said the bills are a positive step forward, but he’s also calling for universal background checks and closing loopholes in existing gun laws.
CBS3’s Howard Monroe reports.