I WANTED to believe it. I really did.
I wanted to believe that our Republican U.S. senator, Pat Toomey, would show some moderation and support bipartisan, common-sense gun control legislation this week after the horrific shooting in Orlando just over a week ago.
I even wrote Toomey an open letter in this newspaper, which he responded to, promising he would set aside the rhetoric and actually do something to stop these mass shootings.
Unfortunately, his votes this week spoke louder than those words.
Here's what happened.
On Monday, the Senate voted on two issues: First, it voted on whether to close the "terror loophole," a gap in our gun laws that allows potential terrorists to buy guns. Because of this loophole, people on the "no-fly" list at airports aren't restricted from buying guns. Second, the Senate voted on whether to expand background checks for gun purchases.
These votes should have been easy. They're no-brainers. But, on both bills, Toomey voted no.
First, he voted against the bill to close the terror loophole, reasoning that it could potentially, maybe, slightly inconvenience people accidentally placed on the watch list from buying a gun. Second, Toomey voted against a bill to expand background checks that would have incorporated the type of common sense into our gun laws that he's talked about before.
That's what Toomey did this week. He showed that when it was time to cast a vote, take a position, and actually get something done to make our country safer from gun violence, he just wouldn't do it.
Even if he ends up voting for a new bill from Maine Sen. Susan Collins, which he declined to co-sponsor, even though other Republicans did, he's already blown his opportunity to make real progress on gun safety. Plus, the Collins bill is only a half-measure; banning terror suspects from buying guns is possible only if gun buyers are subject to background checks, and he voted against background checks Monday.
I expected more from Toomey. And Pennsylvania deserves more than just talk on gun violence. We deserve, and we need, some real action.
Last week, in my letter to Toomey, I asked him to do four things.
I asked him to reintroduce his own background check legislation and work hard to get it passed. The bill got reintroduced, but he didn't push for a vote on it. And when a similar bill to expand background checks did get a vote, he opposed it.
I asked him to announce his support for a ban on assault weapons with high-capacity magazines like the one used in Orlando. He didn't do it.
I asked him to support legislation to close the terror watch list. As I said above, he found reasons to oppose it.
Finally, I asked him to tell the National Rifle Association, which has spent decades blocking even the most reasonable, common-sense gun safety laws, to go "pound sand." As you might have guessed, he didn't do that, either.
Last week, Toomey wrote a very nice letter back to me. He said he'd do something. He said he wanted to "work together" to stop gun violence.
Unfortunately, those words didn't lead to action. And his actions to oppose these common-sense bills are a heck of a lot louder than his words.
Ed Rendell is former mayor of Philadelphia and former governor of Pennsylvania. He is chairing the U.S. Senate campaign of Democrat Katie McGinty, who is running against Toomey.