Manchin on gun control: Newtown has 'changed me'
December 17th, 2012
09:53 AM ET
5 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. Larry L

    We need to listen to this Senator. It's time the pro-hunting population had a voice of reason rather than the N.R.A. – a group of radicals who care only about gun sales and the right-wing militia mentality. Senator Manchin can help introduce legislation to regulate those weapons that should only be in the hands of law enforcement or military personnel. The 2nd Amendment was never written as a tool to enable radials to threaten our government with seditious acts.

    December 17, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  2. liberal

    Gun ownership is constitutionally protected. Not because the forefathers wanted people to hunt deer. But because they knew if the citizens were armed their rulers could not easily overtake them.

    Sen. Joe Manchin, our guns are to defend ourselves against YOU.

    December 17, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  3. GOP = Greed Over People

    Call the weapon whatever you want, it fired 30 bullets in rapid succession, if he had used a clip with fewer bullets, he would have had to take time to reload, during those precious seconds, maybe another child could have hid or been hidden.

    Today there will be two funerals, you semi-automatic gun supporters with extended clips, can argue amongst yourselves whether little Norh or Jack's lives was worth your right to own 30 round magazines.

    December 17, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  4. BobFromPA

    I own rifles and shotguns. I cannot find any reason to own a large magazine weapon of any kind, be that a hand gun, shotgun or rifle. Large capacity magazines need banned now with a fine of $1,000.00 or more per clip if you are caught. All clips and guns should be limited to 3 rounds period and all should be registered. It is time to put Pandora back in her box!

    December 17, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  5. dave phillips

    Joe don't do anything with our Guns some one in Chain killed 23 kids with a knive. If u take away Guns then what's next bomb that kill the entire school. Ps I'm a dem in wv you will not get my vote Anyone.

    December 17, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  6. Lionel

    Manchin is a very good and sensible man. NRA and Republicans, please listen to him on this one.

    We are not going to take away your guns but have sensible gun laws.

    December 17, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  7. Kieth

    Lowering magazine capacities is a feel good policy. Same as the Assault weapons ban. Until we have a true debate with open minded people we will not ever help the problem.

    December 17, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  8. sick of republican phonies

    The NRA has grown rich by convincing gun owners (many of limited means) that there is a "war" on their rights to own ANY and AS MANY weapons they wanted. (In 2010, with over 500 employees, there were 9 people making over $300,000 and at least one making over a million bucks a year, not including perks and benefits like health care, etc). They promulgate empty slogans ("When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns") that the unthinking sheep pick up and repeat. It is hard to have a reasonable discussion with an unreasonable entity.

    December 17, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Sen. Manchin is correct. People who make legal gun purchases should be held responsible for not allowing unauthorized, unlicensed individuals from gaining access to those guns. If I loan my car to anyone, or a family member, who is drunk, who later crashes and kills someone, then I am held liable.

    Yet, if I do not control access to, and secure my guns, and a family then uses one of those weapons to commit a crime, then I am not held responsible. ???

    December 17, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  10. Jason

    Assault rifles are simply semi-automatic rifles with military looking stocks. We are really talking about banning these guns for looks only?

    So, Ban guns all together? – there are 200 million privately owned guns in the US. There are easily available guns on the black market that come in through Mexico. – since we are so successful stopping the drugs, how are we going to stop them?

    We magically get all guns out of the US. These Mass killings and attacks are still going on in China and other places with gun bans, but with knives and axes. Yes more may live, but with a slashed up face, that is a really rough life.

    We need to look at what would actually stop this attack – an armed individual in the school office ready to actually respond to a threat.
    These a-holes that want to commit suicide and take a lot of people with them are looking for easy targets – ie. Gun-Free zones. Since designating them gun free zones, they are been under attack, a by-product of failed gun control measures.

    December 17, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  11. Barry

    Donate to the Gun Buyback fund.

    December 17, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  12. Namecrain

    I believe if we take a hard look at the people that are commenting these shooting they arr mentaly unstable

    December 17, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  13. Quark Hadron

    If this is the result, then something good can come out of it: "We need to sit down and have a common sense discussion and move in a reasonable way."

    But, I keep seeing, 'we have to do something.' Do we really want to do 'something' even if it isn't anything that solves the problem, though? That is an emotional, not rational, response.

    Before calling for stricter 'gun control,' think long and hard about the law of unintended consequences...

    All tightening drug laws did was to create a huge market for importing illegal drugs. Drug use still thrives. We've only managed to create and enrich huge drug cartels – selling drugs illegally in the United States. It is against the law, but it still happens. Making criminals rich along the way.

    By making it harder for law abiding citizens to acquire guns legally, would we just be creating a market for illegal gun sales to criminals? Would we really reduce murders? Would we really do what we intend, or just create another market for criminals to get what they want? And, really, who thinks we could actually get guns off the streets in America? There are already too many guns to be able to get them all off the street. We can't stop the flow of drugs into this country – we won't stop a new market for illegal guns either. Trying would be an emotional, ineffective response – not rational.

    Might it not be smarter, and more rational, to go after the criminals instead of the guns? Strengthen penalties and enforcement for laws we already have? Use a gun in committing a crime=20 years locked away. Convicted felon caught with a gun=30 years. Taking the guns off the street will.... still leave criminals on the street. Taking the criminals off the streets would go a lot further to lessening crime, don't ya think?

    "Something" needs to be more than just "anything." It needs to address the problem, but realistically – actually resulting in reducing the problem – and without introducing more problems. More than just lip-service to get votes.

    December 17, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  14. Tony in Maine

    Manchin just proved he's a smart conservative – a rare commodity in this day and age

    December 17, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. Facts don't Lie

    now can you bring more of the pro-gun Congress members to your side? Hopefully you can.

    December 17, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  16. onlyfacts

    Here's my take. Notice most of the gunmen in these mass shootings are in their twenties. This age group is the first to have experienced extremely violent video games, usually on a daily basis, since they were a small kid. The objective of most of these games is to be the guy who can kill the most. This guy usually wears camos or black, same as all the people responsible for the mass shootings. A "normal" brain can turn the interactive cartoon/game off and go out and deal with reality. The "warped/ill" brain possibly wants to be that important "winner" in the real world. He can't shut-off the game. I truly believe when you go into a store to purchase a gun, you should be given a 20 question psychological exam that is to be mailed to a state agency for review. This will take 30 days. Then you will be given another, different exam to be mailed in with another 30 day waiting period. A Psychologist knows what questions to ask and knows what the applicants answers can tell about a persons mental health. If this person fails this "test", a letter will be mailed to the applicant stating, the state has denied their application. The state now has record of this persons mental state for further investigation, if needed and this person can never buy a weapon. This may not solve the problem, but may have prevented several of the last tragedies. Also, all clips with 10 rounds or more and all assault weapons should be illegal to sale or buy. Go shoot your targets or deer with weapons that aren't designed to kill masses.

    December 17, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  17. Bill Smale

    Joe, First off, Deer don't shoot back, and your rifle/shotgun is for hunting or target shooting. their clips/magazines are different and manufactured as such. Even in Calif. shotgun magzines can only hold (3) shells. Where is the common since of you leaders. DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE MIND SET OF THIS NATION, THE CULTURE. It;s okay for Hollywood and celebrities to continue making violent movies, glamourizing guns, using beautiful sexy women to toat a gun. All these anti -gun celebs are hypocrties and talk out the side of their mouths, for what, a pay check thats for what. Where are their principles, $$$$$$$$. Washington doesn;t have the nuts to go after Hollywood because of the financial backing they get at election time. So Joe, Sit down with your croonies and talk about changing the mind set of this countries youth, stop the govt handouts, stop the corrouption of Washington, the waste and abuse and put Americans back to work to get some faith and trust back into this country. guns don't kill people bt themselves. When a drunk driver kills someone I don't see Washington taking cars away from them.

    December 17, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. Michael

    The problem is that most citizens do not understand anything about what state of the art mind control technology can accomplish. The Federal Government can take a weak, confused person, and in a very short time program them to kill their loved ones and themselves. These contrived massacres should be seen through for what they are, a blatant attempt to disarm the people to facilitate further erosion of our liberty. Our Government has been infiltrated by the Illuminati and a thorough housecleaning is in order. Start with the FEDERAL RESERVE BANK, F.B.I., C.I.A., I.R.S., D.E.A., N.S.A., B.A.T.F.....Did I leave any out?

    December 17, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  19. plain&simple

    Good for you SENATOR!!! This is what leadership is all about....responsible gun owners should be leading on this issue. They have the most to lose in this debate. They get painted with the same brush as the bad guys because of lack of regulation!!! Lead the way in guiding ....don't hide and complain ,make some sensible solutions so you can keep and enjoy your sport/ enthusiasm!!! Address the purchase of guns,the background checks....these regulations will not restrict sane ,responsible people from owing will show that every gun owner is not crazy and blood thirsty!!!!

    December 17, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  20. Gregory M. Newbold

    Anyone that tries to muddy the water around gun control with the inclusion of "MENTAL HEALTH" topics, IS NOT serious about taking action. They are simply applying a "Dean Smith" 4-corners approah in an attempt to run out the clock, prolong the game, and get guns so entrenched in American society that they can not be extracated. We had crazy people in 1960/1970/1980. etc. We didn`t have these mass murderous killing sprees then. We also didn`t have "high capacity magazines / clips" or semi-automatic / automatic handguns and assault rifles. That`s the difference; not "mental health".

    I favor state & local laws that solve the gun problem. Let the red states, you know the ones that TAKE all that FEDERAL AID provided by the tax payers in the BLUE STATES, be a gun happy as their voters want them to be. Blue states should pass onerous/crippling laws that make gun ownership / possesion / transport [though their state or airspace] legal but a NIGHTMARE. Ban any clip with more capacity than 10 rounds [shouldn`t police have a advantage with their 15-shot Glocks?]. Have shooting ranges be require to call local authorities when some one shows up with a high capacity clip or assault weapon. Attack guns with the same stae & local level focus that the anti-abortion crowd has employed.

    December 17, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  21. Rudy NYC


    Gun ownership is constitutionally protected. Not because the forefathers wanted people to hunt deer. But because they knew if the citizens were armed their rulers could not easily overtake them. Sen. Joe Manchin, our guns are to defend ourselves against YOU.
    You have "the right to bear arms", which is Constitutionally protected. It describes a "well-regulated militia", which does not match up with the NRA's desire to allow anyone to own assault rifles, and other weaponry designed to hunt and kill humans.

    December 17, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  22. kirk

    KENNESAW, Ga – Several Kennesaw officials attribute a drop in crime in the city over the past two decades to a law that requires residents to have a gun in the house.

    In 1982, the Kennesaw City Council unanimously passed a law requiring heads of households to own at least one firearm with ammunition.

    The ordinance states the gun law is needed to "protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants."

    Then-councilman J.O. Stephenson said after the ordinance was passed, everyone "went crazy."

    "People all over the country said there would be shootings in the street and violence in homes," he said. "Of course, that wasn't the case."

    In fact, according to Stephenson, it caused the crime rate in the city to plunge.

    Kennesaw Historical Society president Robert Jones said following the law's passage, the crime rate dropped 89 percent in the city, compared to the modest 10 percent drop statewide.

    "It did drop after it was passed," he said. "After it initially dropped, it has stayed at the same low level for the past 16 years."

    December 17, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  23. kirk

    its disgusting how liberals twist truth you sicken me to no end

    December 17, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  24. Malory Archer

    dave phillips

    Joe don't do anything with our Guns some one in Chain killed 23 kids with a knive.


    Actually, someone in CHINA cut 22 children with a KNIFE. While several were seriously injured, NOT A SINGLE ONE DIED, or for that matter, HAD LIFE THREATENING INJURIES. Take you lie back to faux noise and the reichwing radio echo chamber.

    December 17, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  25. SirBo

    The second Amendment was enacted by our forefathers to help us defend against oppressing monarchies such as the British empire back in those days. Today we are self-ruled. We elect the people that govern us. We pick and choose someone in our communities, and send them to Washington to govern on our behalf. If we don't like how they're governing we either vote them out of office, or we impeach them out of office. Sometimes we even throw them in jail when they misbehave. We don't have imperial rulers oppressing the people in Washington. The president of the united states cannot use the US armed forces against the people of America like the British empire did in the days of our founding forefathers. He can't even pass gas without approval from Congress. We are a government of the people, for the people, and most importantly, BY THE PEOPLE. It is highly disingenuous to continue using the 2nd amendment as an excuse to collect highly lethal automatic weaponry capable of mass murder.

    December 17, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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