Sen. Pat Toomey spoke to a crowd of nearly 25 county residents Monday afternoon, telling them that the nation must "stop the madness."

Toomey, who is campaigning in what experts have called "the race of his career"  to hold onto his Senate seat against Gov. Tom Wolf's former chief of staff, Katie McGinty, stopped by the Crane Roome Grille on Monday. 

The audience of community members included local and state Republican Committee member Dick Flannery, Neshannock Township supervisor Leslie Bucci and Lawrence County Commissioner Dan Vogler. The campaign stop was hosted by the local Republican Committee and Gale Measel, who was represented by his wife, Valerie. Measel is serving as an alternative delegate at the GOP Convention this week in Cleveland. 

Touching on several hot topics, Toomey spoke most candidly for his support for law enforcement and local and national security. He referenced Sunday's events of a gunman in Baton Rouge targeting police officers, summarizing the last few weeks' home-soil violence involving police as "disgusting." 

"Folks this is madness," he said. "I am so furious of the people who have chosen to spread a false narrative for law enforcement."

The senator said that an "unfair, wrong" narrative placed upon law enforcement departments nationwide has bred "environments for violent attacks." He expanded his claims, expressing his views on sanctuary cities and federal gun ownership laws. 

Toomey said he has pushed aggressively against sanctuary cities, policy, he noted, that McGinty has supported. Earlier this month, a bill proposed by Toomey that would have rejected federal grant monies to sanctuary cities was cut off by Senate Democrats with a 53-44 vote, seven vote shorts of being presented to the floor.

"A special policy in favor of someone who is here illegally?" Toomey said Monday. "How many more times do we need to see these types of attacks before we start taking homeland security seriously?"

He continued that in many respects, he believes Pennsylvania is in a critical position of identity, as he believes he and McGinty cannot see eye to eye on security issues. 

"Katie McGinty and I are probably the most contrasting candidates in the country right now," he said. 

Toomey went on to discuss his stance on gun-purchasing regulations and background checks, saying he is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment.

"I have a perfect track record with the NRA," he said.

"I am a gun owner, I take my son shooting. But I don't believe that background checks infringe upon those rights. There are some holes in our current background checks."

Toomey co-sponsored legislation in 2013 alongside Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, that sought to expand instant background checks for commercial gun purchases in wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, but the bill fell short.

In June, the Senate stopped a bill proposed by senators Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, and Charles Schumer, D-New York, that not only would have required background checks for commercial purchases, but also for private transactions, including those at gun shows and online. Both Toomey and Manchin voted against this expansion.

"I am absolutely unwilling to diminish law-abiding citizens' Second Amendment rights.  But I think a three-minute background check is very reasonable thing. 

"I think the whole purpose is to make sure that someone who is a violent criminal or someone who is dangerously mentally ill, or someone who is so dangerous we won't let them board a commercial flight — I think it's reasonable to screen those people out.  I think that's just common sense." 

(Email: rsapienza@ncnewsonline.com)

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