Major Gun Rights Group Backs Bipartisan Manchin-Toomey Bill

A major gun rights advocacy group has split from the NRA to embrace the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey gun control bill, which seeks to expand background checks for the purchase of firearms.

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms has opposed previous Democratic versions of gun control legislation, but have embraced the bipartisan proposal negotiated by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).

Called the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, the legislation seeks to expand background checks, applying them to gun shows and online sales of firearms.

The CCRKBA has fewer members than the National Rifle Association – over 600,000 compared to the 5 million boasted by the NRA. But their support of the Manchin-Toomey compromise presents an unique divide in the gun lobby, which is usually tightly united, notes NBC News.

The head of the group, Alan Gottlieb, explained their decision in a Sunday e-mail to supporters. It read, in part:

If you read the Manchin-Toomey substitute amendment, you can see all the advances for our cause that it contains like interstate sales of handguns, veteran gun rights restoration, travel with firearms protection, civil and criminal immunity lawsuit protection, and most important of all, the guarantee that people, including federal officers, will go to federal prison for up to 15 years if they attempt to use any gun sales records to set up a gun registry.

“It’s huge,” Manchin told Fox News on Sunday, after the group’s announcement.

Republican Senator Susan Collins also announced her support for the bill Sunday. She is the third to support the proposal behind Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois and Toomey himself.

Collins said that the bill “takes a much more common sense approach by requiring background checks only for commercial transactions and exempts family gifts and transfers.”

Arizona Senator John McCain has also said that he is “very favorably disposed” to the bill.

You can read a quick “fact sheet” for the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act here.

[Image via: Mariusz Niedzwiedzki,]