Manchin on gun control: Newtown has 'changed me'
December 17th, 2012
09:53 AM ET
2 years ago

Manchin on gun control: Newtown has 'changed me'

(CNN) – Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia and "proud gun owner," said Monday he believes last week's Connecticut elementary school shooting should be the tipping point in the debate over limiting gun rights.

"Who would have ever thought, in America, or anywhere in the world, that children would be slaughtered?" he said on CNN's "Amanpour." "You know, that–it's changed me."

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Related: Sen-elect Joe Donnelly, pro-gun Democrat, now open to gun control measures

Manchin said he's committed to bringing "the dialogue that would bring a total change."

"And I mean a total change," he added.

While Democratic lawmakers took to the airwaves this weekend to call for congressional action on gun control, the few Republicans who did speak out pointed to numerous court cases that have upheld Second Amendment rights and said guns are needed as mechanisms for self-defense.

Manchin, who has an 'A' rating with the National Rifle Association, said the gun rights debate is not about vilifying the Second Amendment but a need to prevent another mass shooting like the one in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead.

"It's time to move beyond rhetoric. We need to sit down and have a common sense discussion and move in a reasonable way," Manchin said earlier Monday on MSNBC.

His tone sounds markedly different from one of his television ads as a Senate nominee in 2010, when he used a rifle to put a bullet through the Cap and Trade bill. He was serving as the state's governor at the time.

The senator was re-elected this year and doesn't face another election until 2016, giving him ample room to take political stances unpopular with his base.

"I want to call all our friends in the NRA, sit down and bring them into it," he said. "We all have to be at the table."

Manchin also pointed to Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who announced Sunday she will re-introduce an assault weapons ban when Congress reconvenes in January.

"Anyone saying they don't want to talk and sit down and have that type of dialogue is wrong," he said.

The senator said he believes that "seeing the massacre of so many innocent children has changed" opinions.

His comments were echoed by another Senate Democrat with high marks from the NRA. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia said Monday it was time for both parties to meet in the middle on the issue.

"I've been a longtime supporter of Second Amendment rights. I believe every American has Second Amendment rights. The ability to hunt is part of our culture. I have an NRA rating of an 'A,' but enough is enough," he told WBBT, a local CNN affiliate in Richmond, Virginia.

"I join with what I hope what will be a majority of both Democrats and Republicans," he continued. "There should not be a Democrat or Republican position on this. It is time for this kind of senseless violence to end."

– CNN's Steve Brusk and Dan Merica contributed to this report.


Filed under: Connecticut • Gun rights • Joe Manchin
soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. Donald DeForest

    Talking about gun control,how many millions of kids died from 1936 -1945 with out a shoot being fired because of strict German gun control.I know that was back then and has no place in the discussion now,but if the Indians would of had guns would we of had Wound Knee,no maybe more Custer Last Stands.White mren control the weapons and what would of happen if blackmen would have had guns during the terrible era of slavery,maybe things would of been different.

    December 17, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  2. magnum12

    Connecticut school killings. Very tragic and outrageous events. Also very tragic and outrageous is the killing of one million children every year in the U.S. by abortions. That is 3000 babies killed every day or 100 every hour of every day. "Who would have ever thought, in America, or anywhere in the world, that children would be slaughtered?" Are the one million abortions performed in the U.S. considered in that question?

    If Society wants to send a strong message against violence, stopping unnecessary abortions would be a good place to begin. Then we could look at violence on TV, video games and at the movies. Also look at violence in music and pornography. BTW, Hollywood elites and violent and immoral film industry are the biggest contributor to the Dem's electoral coffers.

    December 17, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  3. K

    NRA = Not Relevant Anymore.

    December 17, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  4. JoJo

    I believe in 2nd Amendment rights. We need that to protect the citizenry from the possibility of an extreme left-or right-wing despotic government taking over. But we have to draw the line somewhere. I say ban these automatic assault weapons.

    It's up to YOU. Do NOT vote for any candidate that gets support from the NRA.

    December 17, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  5. Randy, San Francisco

    Great to see politicians stand up to the bully NRA. Why are GOP/Tea Party politicians silent?

    December 17, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  6. NoKidding

    Agree with Sniffit. The 2nd amendment is so outdated. Preventing dictators is also a lame excuse. We have presidents and congress and the supreme court, even guys like GW Bush can't have his party last very long in power. It was too long but thanks to our system dictators won't last.

    December 17, 2012 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  7. DENNA

    I believe that citizens should have guns for protection, but come on. Unless you are expecting an army to attack you , you don't need an assault weapon. I am a hunter, with my choice of weapon a bow and arrow. I don't have a problem with sporting guns, but we have got to do something about these high capacity guns. The shooter would have had a hard time with a regular hand gun, which would not provide rapid fire power. The NRA should be called on the carpet. What's it going to be? Sensible gun control or more dead five year olds. We have to decide because I am certain this will happen somewhere in America again.

    December 17, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  8. Evergreen

    Bullets fired from the gun kills people so regulat the H3LL out of bullets. Ration and charge one hundred dollars a bullet plus state and local taxes.

    December 17, 2012 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  9. Cindy

    The next time some one feels like blowing people away they should go to a gun show and see what happens. If they start shooting people with their automatic weapons then they will be shot by all the gun carrying enthusiasts that think their gun will stop them. If it doesn't work then there will be a lot of dead bodies because every one pulled out their guns and started firing and missed but what's a little collateral damage when everyone there thinks they were doing the right thing?

    December 17, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  10. Michael

    "@grixxly,yes an AR 15 assault rifle can be modified to become an automatic by filing a couple of pieces."

    Sigh. No, it can't. When are you people going to actually try learning something about firearms. Why don't you go ahead and find the internet post where it tells you how to do this, since it's so easy? Try actually LEARNING something about firearms before you yammer on. Please.

    December 17, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  11. Shirley

    I think what will get Washington to act on gun control NOW is what I'm calling. MMM! Million Mom March! Grass root march on Washington! What a powerful statement and voice! Call to action NOW! What powerful powerful sight this will be

    December 17, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  12. blake

    Just another Democratic Senator with no regard for the U.S. constitution. Bum!

    December 17, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  13. G

    Meeting in the middle would be giving up ground that the NRA has just lost. Too little too late. The second amedent has to change. The republicans kept trying to change the constitution on other issues so why are the dems rolling over.

    Abraham Lincoln said the constitution is not a suicide pact.

    December 17, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  14. james

    I have heard pro-gun advocates point to cases were armed civilians prevented more deaths. There are such cases. I have not heard of one where such people were ARMED WITH SEMI AUTOMATIC WEAPONS. Banning such weapons, high count magazines, will not prevent Americans from arming themselves and protecting their loved ones and it may help detour these mass slaughters.

    December 17, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  15. lawrencewinkler

    Why is the massacre any different than the ones before, or the ones that will occur after? What idiot would believe that millions Americans with millions of assault weapons and 100s of millions rounds of ammunition with a daily diet of hate, lies. and exaggerations pushed and exuded from the nation's very pores that this massacre would not occur. It was inevitable, like the sun rising every day.

    What will come of this massacre. Very little. There is no tipping point. Let a week or two go by. The NRA, the religious right, the conservative propaganda machine, the tea partiers have not yet spoken. They have already the answer but is waiting for the right time to make another sophistic argument.

    Will a law be passed? Yes. It will either be a law, designed to change nothing, perhaps ambiguous or designed to run afoul of the political hacks on the Supreme Court who will strike the law down.

    December 17, 2012 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  16. Eric

    As always, a mass shooting starts everyone in on "Gun Control." Yet "Gun Control" will do nothing to stop mass shootings or killings. If someone goes off the deep end, they will find a gun or a bomb or a sword or something.
    Most if not all of these mass shootings would have been able to be stopped in a hurry with well armed citizens/ teachers/ insert random members of the community here. Can anyone tell me how a gun ban is going to help prevent any blood shed? Be realistic, banning all guns isn't going to make guns disappear any better than making drugs illegal made drugs disappear off of the streets. So give me a real explanation as to how that is actually help. Thank you.

    December 17, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  17. lawrencewinkler

    I'm in favor of repealing the 2nd Amendment. It serves no purpose. An argument that the purpose of the right to bear arms is to prevent government encroachment of our liberties can only then be interpreted to allow us individually to tanks, aircraft carriers, nuclear weapons, drones, ballistic missiles, etc, for only then do we the people have sufficient power to protect ourselves against government encroachment.

    The fact is, assault weapons could not protect us from any reasonably disciplined police force, much less the US government. The idea is laughable.

    December 17, 2012 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  18. Eric

    If anyone is interested In an actual solution to the problem of securing our schools, how about you get some of the veterans wounded overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan and instead of just discharging them because they no longer meet the militaries full time combat guidelines, give them an opportunity to be school guards. They certainly have the fire arms training. Of course they would need to pass a mental health check of some sort, but a lot of these men and women would be great at this. Having talked to several I've heard they sometimes feel as though they are being told they are useless when they become discharged as no longer being fit for service duty, and then they collect disability and have a continued feeling of uselessness. Why not keep them enlisted let them be guards, give them a sense of purpose and honor them for what they have sacrificed for this country. They could remain in the position until retirement. This is of course if they want to. But from feed back I've heard so far this sounds like a potentially good option..

    December 17, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  19. janel

    Want to give you a break, but I'm very saddened to know your network (and others) are being too invasive to the folks in Newtown. Give the people a break and let them grieve without TV cameras in front of them.

    Also, I can't believe the coverage of the death of Hawaii's long-term senator. The young lady who reported it seemed to have no knowledge of his many contributions to our country. I'm not feeling good about your recent coverage.

    December 17, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  20. wigglwagon

    Legislation is not what we need. Depending on who is in the White House at the time, it might not get enforced anyway.

    President Obama should issue an executive order banning guns just like the executive order he issued banning enforcement of immigration law.

    We know executive orders will be enforced.

    December 18, 2012 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
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