Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a staunch pro-gun rights lawmaker with an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, said Monday that the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., had changed his views on gun control.
“I don’t know anyone in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle,” Manchin said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today.
“I don’t know anyone that needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting. I mean, these are things that need to be talked about.”
Manchin said that both chambers of Congress need to have a “common-sense discussion,” wherein “everything is on the table,” including discussion on gun control, mental health and a “culture” of violence. On Twitter, Manchin endorsed a suggestion by outgoing Sen. Joe Lieberman to create a national commission to address mass violence.
Manchin’s comments marked a significant shift for the West Virginia Democrat, who has been endorsed by the NRA in both of his campaigns for a Senate seat. He even ran a famous television ad during his 2010 special-election campaign, in which he shot a rifle at cap-and-trade legislation and promised to support gun owners’ Second Amendment rights.
Manchin also urged the nation’s gun lobby to be part of the discussion.
“I want to call all our friends at the NRA and sit down,” Manchin said today. “They have to be at the table. This is a time for all of us to sit down and move in a responsible manner. I think they will.”
Manchin also praised Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who pledged Sunday to introduce new assault weapons legislation on the first day Congress convenes in January.
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