You know that we have had a good working relationship, and I believe you to be a decent and honorable man. In fact, you have used that quote in a campaign commercial.
Now is the time for you to demonstrate that decency in what might take a strong dose of political courage, as well. I am sure you were as shocked and disgusted as we all were when you heard about the carnage that occurred in Orlando, Fla., in the early hours of Sunday morning.
You probably watched, as I did, a news conference on Tuesday morning, when a governor, mayor, police chief, sheriff and FBI supervisor all said what a great job the first responders, police and medical personnel did. They all went on to say how the community has banded together in common grief with unprecedented unity.
When I heard this, it made me think of similar scenes after massacres in Blacksburg, Va., Fort Hood, Texas, Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Charleston, S.C., San Bernardino, Calif., and Roseburg, Ore. The victimized community always rallies together; the police and first responders always do a courageous job and should all be praised, but nothing seems to change.
At one point after the Sandy Hook school shooting, you joined with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, to co-sponsor legislation calling for universal background checks. Unfortunately, that legislation failed to produce the 60 votes necessary in the Senate to overcome a filibuster. Since Sandy Hook, we have seen mass killings carried out with firearms in South Carolina, Oregon, California, Washington state and, now, Florida. Even in the face of all these, you failed to take any further action. You have not even tried to reintroduce your legislation, which was met with approval from nine out of 10 Americans.
Worse still, you were one of 54 senators who cast an unconscionable vote against legislation that would have kept people on the federal terror watch lists from buying firearms - you tried to cover your tracks by voting for a watered-down version that would have hamstrung law enforcers and done very little.
So, in the aftermath of the deadliest shooting in America I ask you, in the name of decency, to do the following:
1. Reintroduce your universal background legislation and work hard to get it passed.
2. Announce that you will support reimplementing the assault weapons ban in effect from 1994 to 2004, which also would eliminate high-capacity magazines like the ones the killer used in Orlando to wreak mass carnage.
3. Support and vote for legislation that would ban people on the federal terror watch lists from purchasing firearms - no equivocation. (Editor's note: Wednesday night, Toomey joined the Democrats' filibuster on the Senate floor, an indication he could be changing his position on the issue.)
4. Man up, and tell the National Rifle Association to go "pound sand" when it tries to persuade you to do what is morally indefensible.
Your friend, Ed Rendell