What is the Manchin-Toomey Background Check Amendment? (Update: CCKRBA Pulls Endorsement)

The pro-rights Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms has endorsed the Manchin-Toomey bill, believing it’s a step toward restoring the Second Amendment. It certainly has some interesting features:

  • Section 112 improves state-level NICS record keeping.
  • Section 115 provides additional veterans’ protection against being found incompetent and losing Second Amendment rights.
  • Section 122 expands NICS checks to all gun show sales, but prohibits the FBI from charging user fee for these checks. A state-issued carry permit is a valid substitute for NICS. Perhaps most important, this section prohibits creating a national registry, and includes a prison term for law enforcement involved in trafficking (e.g. Fast & Furious).
  • Section 128  may broaden interstate transportation of unloaded, secured firearms, but it doesn’t go far enough (see discussion below).

Sections 142-7 could be labeled the Bureaucrat Employment Act. It creates a “National Commission on Mass Violence.” Some commission members will be appointed from senators and representatives. But there will be openings for experts in the fields of firearms, mental health, school safety, and mass media. Section 144 provides for witness expenses for those called to testify. Section 145 discusses compensation for non-elected members, including travel expenses. There’s no way to legislate that this commission’s findings won’t be biased from the start.

The NRA doesn’t support the Manchin-Toomey proposal because it does nothing to stop states from enforcing their own laws regarding interstate travel. They cited Torraco v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where interstate travelers were arrested by police while transporting unloaded firearms in check baggage through airports. Airlines have specific rules about safe firearms transport. These conditions were met and the firearms were safe and not intended to be used in crime. But the travelers violated state laws because they didn’t have a state firearms owners license. The Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, found for the defendents. Under Manchin-Toomey, such Second Amendment violations will continue.


Manchin-Toomey has some good ideas, but it supports and reinforces the concept that states can continue to violate your Second Amendment rights just because you simply changed planes at an airport in their state. While it’s better than Senator Schumer’s proposal, it still institutionalizes the state’s right to ruin citizens’ lives by turning them into accidental criminals.

Update (Bryan): Howard emails to tell me that he just spoke with the CCKRBA, which had endorsed the Manchin-Toomey bill. They have withdrawn their endorsement.

Update (Howard): This morning, CCRKBA pulled their endorsement of Manchin-Toomey after a key provision failed to appear addressing rights restoration. For example, somebody convicted of a non-violent crime could petition to have rights restored, and the ATF would then investigate and report their findings to the court. Congress hasn’t budget for the ATF to do these investigations: No funding, no restorations, no CCRKBA support.



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