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Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) have proposed a bill to expand background checks, which they claim are necessary to ensure the safety of schoolchildren. Special interests, however, have come out against the plan, claiming that inaccuracies occur in the databases used for background checks and that complying with the requirement would place an undue burden on law-abiding citizens.
This has nothing to do with guns, however. The bill targets teachers, coaches, and other school employees who have been convicted of sex offenses and seek to regain employment in a different state to avoid detection. The American Federation of Teachers expressed skepticism about the bill, citing concerns about false accusations against teachers. To be fair, there are also concerns — cited by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) the chairman of the committee that would handle the bill — about the federal government imposing mandates on local school districts, but Sen. Toomey points out that it would only restrict non-complying schools from receiving federal money. A similar measure passed the House unanimously last year, but stalled in the Senate committee, at the time led by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
When Sens. Toomey and Manchin proposed a bill in April 2013 on background checks for gun purchases, its failure was lamented everywhere from The New York Daily News to The Onion. Now, there’s another background-check bill before the Senate that cites the same justification (protecting schoolchildren) and has the same sponsors but — this time — it aggravates teachers’ unions instead of gun-rights groups. Somehow, if this new effort fails, I doubt we’ll see the same amount of outrage from the press.