Senator Toomey has worked hard to protect the American people. In addition to his efforts to protect children from sexual and physical abuse, Senator Toomey has fought to end gun violence, support our public safety officers, and fill vacancies on the federal bench in Pennsylvania.
Senator Toomey believes that Congress can and should take common sense steps to protect the American people from gun violence. This is why he joined Sen. Joe Manchin in introducing the bipartisan Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, which would make it tougher for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to obtain a gun.
The legislation provides a balanced approach. It ensures that the same criminal background checks that are required when a licensed dealer sells a gun also apply to commercial sales over the Internet or at gun shows. The legislation also adds new protections for the Second Amendment rights of members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and other law-abiding citizens.
The terror attacks in San Bernardino, California and Orlando, Florida demonstrate the need to keep firearms out of the hands of terrorists. Senator Toomey introduced the Fighting Terrorism and Upholding Due Process Act, which would give the Attorney General the flexibility to stop any terrorist from purchasing a firearm. Senator Toomey's bill was the only proposal to include two layers of due process for gun-buyers: (1) meaningful judicial review to help ensure that innocent Americans are not wrongfully placed on a suspected terrorist list; and (2) for those who are still mistakenly barred from buying a gun, the ability to challenge such a decision in court, including receiving attorney's fees if the challenge is successful. Senator Toomey also joined 51 of his colleagues in supporting bipartisan legislation offered by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to bar those on the terrorist "No-Fly List" from purchasing firearms.
As a champion of the Second Amendment, Senator Toomey has long believed that Americans have an individual right to bear arms for self-protection, hunting and recreation. For example, Senator Toomey is a co-sponsor of the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. However, requiring a brief background check for commercial gun sales, to help keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the seriously mentally ill, is a common sense way to help reduce gun violence. Indeed, such common sense measures are already the law in Pennsylvania law.
Although the Senate has twice failed to pass Senator Toomey's background check legislation, in 2013 and 2015, Senator Toomey remains committed to this bipartisan effort.
Everyday our law enforcement officers and first responders place their lives at risk to protect our neighborhoods. They deserve our respect, admiration, and support.
Instead of receiving the thanks they deserve, too often, our police officers find themselves under attack-from cold-blooded killers ambushing officers across the country as well as from rioters calling for murdered cops.
Like any profession, there are a few bad actors in law enforcement that should be held accountable, but almost all police officers are honorable, hard-working public servants who keep our communities safe.
Senator Toomey has consistently supported America's law enforcement officers and first responders.
Senator Toomey believes we must never forget our fallen law enforcement heroes. This includes 25 year-old Philadelphia Police Officer Danny Faulkner, who was viciously murdered in the line of duty in December 1981. That is why Senator Toomey successfully led the bipartisan opposition when the Obama Administration nominated an attorney who volunteered to defend Danny Faulkner's unrepentant killer and helped spread false information concerning the tragedy. Senator Toomey helped convince seven Democrat Senators to join their Republican colleagues in defeating the nominee.
Recently, America has seen a number of police officers violently attacked solely because they wear a blue uniform. Senator Toomey's Thin Blue Line Act sends a clear message: If you kill or target a law enforcement officer, prosecutor, firefighter, or other first responder, you will be held accountable. The bill provides that if a defendant murdered or targeted a law enforcement officer, prosecutor, firefighter, or other first responder, this fact shall constitute an aggravating factor in favor of imposing the federal death penalty.
Our law enforcement officers deserve every tool they need to defend themselves. That is why Senator Toomey pushed back against the Obama Administration's executive actions to restrict local law enforcement from obtaining lifesaving federal equipment, including riot shields, helmets, and armored personal transport vehicles.
Senator Toomey was proud to co-sponsor the bipartisan Rafael Ramos and Wenjain Liu National Blue Alert Act, which provides a nationwide system of "blue alerts" to warn law enforcement officers when police are threatened or attacked. President Obama signed this bill into law on May 19, 2015. Senator Toomey also co-sponsored the bipartisan Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program Reauthorization Act, which became law on May 16, 2016.
Federal corrections officers face high risks of violence - both from inmates seeking retribution and their fellow gang members outside of prison. Our federal corrections officers are sometimes placed on duty without any defensive weapons or back-up. Officer Eric Williams paid the price for this misguided policy: Eric was on duty alone in a federal prison in Pennsylvania when a gang member serving a life sentence for first degree murder ambushed Eric and then beat and stabbed him to death. Senator Toomey was proud to work with Eric's parents, Don and Jean Williams, to introduce the bipartisan Eric Williams Correction Officer Protection Act, which requires the federal government to issue non-lethal pepper spray to federal corrections officers. President Obama signed this bill into law in March 2016. Senator Toomey has also introduced the Lieutenant Osvaldo Albarati Correctional Officer Self-Protection Act to allow federal correctional officers to carry firearms to and from work. In June 2016, President Obama signed into law Senator Toomey's Federal Law Enforcement Self-Defense and Protection Act, which ensures federal law enforcement officers on furlough maintain their right to carry a firearm for self-protection.
In the tragic event that a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or first responder falls in the line of duty, we have a duty to provide for their families.
Senator Toomey was proud to co-sponsor the bipartisan Don't Tax Our Fallen Public Safety Heroes Act, which was signed into law in May 2015. The measure prevents taxation of death benefits paid to families of fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders under the Public Safety Officer Benefits program.
Senator Toomey also joined Senator Casey in introducing the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act, which provides that children of fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders are able to receive the maximum college scholarship under the Pell Grant program. The Senate passed this bill on May 10, 2016.
After a lifetime of service, our public safety officers deserve a secure retirement. That is why Senator Toomey introduced the Federal Public Safety Retirement Fairness Act, which eliminates the early withdrawal penalty on retirement funds for federal law enforcement officers, firefighters, other first responders, and air traffic controllers. This bipartisan legislation was signed into law in June 2015.
Our firefighters also face special dangers on the job. When people are fleeing a burning building, firefighters run into it to save others. It is a testament to their bravery and professionalism that Pennsylvania has more volunteer firefighters than any other state in the nation.
In addition to Senator Toomey's efforts to help firefighters as part of the Thin Blue Line Act, Don't Tax Our Fallen Public Safety Heroes Act, Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act, and Federal Public Safety Retirement Fairness Act, Senator Toomey has introduced other initiatives to help these brave men and women who are critical for public safety.
Senator Toomey introduced legislation to clarify that that volunteer firefighter departments, which are critical to the safety of so many Pennsylvania communities, are not subject to Obamacare's harmful employer mandate. This legislation prompted the Internal Revenue Service to clarify that volunteer firefighters are exempt from the mandate.
Senator Toomey has worked across the aisle with Senator Casey and the Obama Administration to fill 16 vacancies on the federal bench in Pennsylvania-14 on Pennsylvania's district courts and two on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Only two states-New York and California-have had more federal judges confirmed to the bench during the same time period.
Thanks to these bipartisan efforts, Pennsylvania now has a federal judge who will sit in the Reading courthouse, which had been vacant for 3 years, and has federal judges in the Williamsport and Easton courthouses, which were also vacant. This helps ensure that the people of Pennsylvania are able to obtain justice, without having to travel many hours across the state.