Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) on Monday called for more “rational gun control” legislation in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 27 people.Warner’s comments are a significant shift for the Virginia Senator, who has been a staunch pro-gun rights lawmaker with an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association during his time in the U.S. Senate. Warner is viewed as a potential Democratic candidate for president in 2016.
“I believe every American has Second Amendment rights,” Warner told WTVR in Virginia. “The ability to hunt is part of our culture. I’ve had a NRA rating of an ‘A’ but, you know, enough is enough. I think most of us realise that there are ways to get to rational gun control. There are ways to grapple with the obvious challenges of mental illness.”
His remarks come on the heels of similar comments from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, another pro-gun rights Democrat, who called Monday for putting “all options on the table” to address gun control.
Warner’s home state is no stranger to tragedy. In 2007, a shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech left 32 dead and 17 injured.
Warner did not get into specifics on what type of legislation he would support. But he dismissed the notion that negotiations over new measures should be a controversial or partisan issue.
“There should not be a Democrat or Republican position on this,” he said. “It is time for this kind of senseless violence to end. There won’t be one perfect law to stop a crazy person from doing evil things. But when we have close to 30,000 killings a year from all types of gun violence, even if we save a few lives, we make progress.”
The NRA gave Warner an “A” rating during his run for Senate in 2008. But Warner has been critical of the group in the past. In 2009, for example, he slammed the group for “going beyond its mission” in opposing the confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
Watch the full clip of Warner’s comments today below: