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

    Unfortunately when 2 intruders break into your house, you are not hunting deer. Given that the national average hit ratio for trained police officers is 1 in 6 (15% hit ratio) even a trained police officer is going to need (statistically) 12 shots to hit each intruder once. That means you are going to have to reload that 3 shot firearm 4 times while the intruders, who most likely will have forgotten to turn in their high-capacity magazines, will keep coming (and probably shooting).

    Where I live the average police response is 12-15 minutes (a rural area), sometimes much longer (such as at night when only 3 deputies cover the whole count). My police and sheriff friends say 'you'd better be able to hold your own until help arrives. They recommend an AR15 (yes the POLICE around here recommend that!).

    December 17, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. Rudy NYC


    "[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation...(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."
    –James Madison,
    James Madison's opinions are not the law. You use the words you cite are used to contradict the law. The 2nd Amendment is pretty clear on in stating a "well regulated militia" shall have the right to bear arms.

    December 17, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. Knuckles the Republican

    Read the second amendment and you will see. You are have the right to own a musket and join your state militia. You do not have the right to own weapons that will mow down children. We need to put an end to any fire arm that has a clip larger than three rounds.

    December 17, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  4. sonny chapman

    I'm a hunter. I don't NEED to own an Assault Rifle or high capacity pistol to pursue my hobby. Those that NEED to own one of these WEAPONS needs to find another past time. Take up gardening or jogging or rock climbing. The PURSUIT of your SPORT can no longer be tolerated by the rest of us in this country. This Reasonable Limitation of your 2 nd Ammend. Rights do not trump my Constitutional Right to live w/out fear of future massacres.

    December 17, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  5. sonny chapman


    December 17, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  6. GOP = Greed Over People

    And while we are debunking "Fox facts" such as the 22 knife fatalities in China, here is another making the rounds about the mall shooter being stopped by a concealed gun carrier.

    The mall shooter was NOT confronted/stopped by a concealed gun carrier. There was a 22 year old with a concealed gun that had drawn his gun while hiding behind a column in the mall. He noticed there was movement behind the shooter and was afraid he would hit people if he missed the shooter. When the shooter spotted him, he ran to a store and hid.

    Nice try, but you are projecting what makes your agenda shine in a favorable light.

    Not judging the young man either, he did what he should have done, as he is not a trained law enforcement officer and more fatalities caused by a Wild West style shoot out is not the solution.

    December 17, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. sonny chapman

    I'm a hunter. I don't need Assault Rifles or large capacity pistols to pursue my sport. Anyone who NEEDS one of these WEAPONS needs to find another hobby. Try gardening or jogging or rock climbing. Your 2nd Ammend. Rights don't trump MY RIGHTS to live w/out the fear of the next massacre.

    December 17, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Joe wrote:

    Where I live the average police response is 12-15 minutes (a rural area), sometimes much longer (such as at night when only 3 deputies cover the whole count). My police and sheriff friends say 'you'd better be able to hold your own until help arrives. They recommend an AR15 (yes the POLICE around here recommend that!).
    The AR-15 is a professional, more rugged, version of the Bushmaster 223 constructed with better materials....for those who don't know.

    How many home invasion incidents have there been in your country where such an armed defensive stand was used or required in the past few decades? You name the time frame.

    December 17, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Guns are nor responsible.

    A human being was responsible. unless you address the responsible persons. for these events, nothing will change, but the weapons being used.

    December 17, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. John

    The only gun laws the NRA is likely to allow is giving every new born child in the USA an automatic machine gun to protect themselves. Households that have guns are 40% more likely to have a gun death in the family than households without guns. According to the NRA banning 30 round gun clips will violate gun owners 2nd Amendment rights. After all most hunters need a 30 round clip to hunt birds and deer.

    December 17, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. Deminted

    The problem is that the NRA is completely lacking any common sense or reason. So what if a few theatres, malls or schools get shot up? It's a small price to pay for freedom.

    December 17, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. james l hux

    Illegal Immigrants kill 25-35 american citzens everyday whether driving drunk or just plain murdering them with weapons,but do you hear Obama or even Feinstein mention doing something about illegal immigrants? Or how about the shooter at Virginia Tech Cho an legal immigrant who killed far more, its time to enforce what laws we do have and find those that are metally ill. This is more a mental health and a keep those that commit crimes locked up situation,most if not all gun owners are responsible gun owners who obey the law. Go after the criminals. I am sick of these self serving liberals who like Obama and Holder doesn't release the facts about Fast and Furious where the government allowed mexicans to cross the border and buy guns. 58,000 people die every year from car accidents but do you hear talk of banning cars? No guns means a thug will just use something else to kill with, most of these shooters have had or have mental health issues and the system needs to find these individuals who are a danger and see that they get proper help to avoid these horrible crimes. I have been around guns my whole life, we need to bring back the NRA into schools and teach respect and proper use of guns and stop Hollywood for stop encouraging crime by their violent movies. Maybe its time to return to prayer also into schools, bibles are allowed in prison but maybe if they were allowed in schools these horrible incidents wouldn't occur.

    December 17, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. idb

    The usual nonsense, comparable to "I don't own a Ferrari, so why should anyone else?" Different people have different hobbies. This is a free country, so let's not over regulate things. The real issue is the fading away of values and norms in this country. One of the reasons Obama got reelected was because a lot of people actually condone all the crimes he commits. As for Feinstein, she is a known nutcase, why does anyone still take her serious?

    December 17, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  14. rs

    The best way to "enslave" people is to take away their rights as workers and only offer "minimum wage". To make that even better, take away the social safety net- you know unemployment, and programs like that.
    There is your enslavement.

    December 17, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. rs


    The problem is that the NRA is completely lacking any common sense or reason. So what if a few theatres, malls or schools get shot up? It's a small price to pay for freedom.
    Completely correct. I would only edit your statement to say "their freedom".

    December 17, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  16. Danny Hunt

    A First Step, Suicide Factors to prevent suicides, Rage Shooting Factors to prevent rage shootings

    "I watched the interfaith prayer vigil tonight for the victims of Newtown CT and saw President Barack Obama speak of the first steps to prevent these terrible crimes. The first step in suicide prevention is knowing the suicide factors, for rage shootings it is the same, using rage shooting factors to prevent rage shootings." see the Rage Shooting Factors page.

    December 17, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  17. Fair is Fair

    Sure didn't take long for the politicians to politicize an unspeakable tragedy, did it?

    My prayers to all affected by this senseless tragedy.

    December 17, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. LOL in Colorado

    In response to Sonny're right people kill people (with guns, I might add). Gun dealers and the NRA are enablers for killers just like drug dealers are enablers for drug addicts. The consequences of killing people for the most part is much more devastating community wise than drug addicts ever came close to being. BRING ON MORE GUN CONTROL AND CLOSE THE GUN PURCHASE LOOPHOLES NOW!!!

    December 17, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  19. Diraphe

    The 2nd amendment has nothing to do with hunting or sport shooting. That argument is meaningless.

    December 17, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair

    Sure didn't take long for the politicians to politicize an unspeakable tragedy, did it?

    My prayers to all affected by this senseless tragedy
    Mike Huckabee won that gold star. Friday afternoon he crossed the line by saying on Fox News Channel that the incident never would have occurred if they had only had prayer in public schools.

    December 17, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  21. Willie Floyd

    Sir Bo, very well said. The most intelligent statement I've read so far. As a mother and grandmother, I cannot believe there are people in our country who value owning an assault weapon more than they value the life of innocent children. God help them and us!!

    December 17, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. grixxly

    What about the millions of gun owners and the millions of semi-auto "assault" rifles that didn't commit any crimes? I am a competitive shooter who owns more than one "assault" rifle and I, and millions of others, keep those arms secure and safe and know how to use them. Banning guns is nothing more than a band-aid. It isn't going to do anything to prevent horrific acts; to say so is disingenuous.

    Also "assault" rifles are not necessarily more dangerous... The VT shooter used a .22 pistol and killed 32 people. Imagine what the carnage would have been if this CT guy had used a 12-gauge shotgun? Close quarters and the spread of the shot it could have been much much worse. It was an absolutely horrific act, but it isn't the gun(s) that's the problem.

    And the 2nd amendment isn't about hunting or protecting yourself from criminals; it's about protecting yourself, and state, and nation from the tyranny of government. There are a ton of writings from founding fathers that support this, but the media and others have successfully misdirected the conversation.

    December 17, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  23. Scott

    The reason why people feel the need to own assault weapons is they don't trust the government and they feel the police cannot protect them. Does anyone know what the police response time was to the incident in Connecticut? Why is there such a distrust for the government and the people we elected to government positions? I find it totally hypocritical of senators as Fienstien from California to propose a ban on guns and blame guns for violent activity, when most of the tv shows and movies that portray gun violence are filmed in her state. Look at the show Sons of Anarchy. It is all about running illegal guns through California. The problem with these tragedies are not guns, knives, or any other weapon. It is about our culture of violence and our obsession with violence. Next time you turn on a violent tv show, watch a violent movie at the theater, or even tune into a UFC fight think about your support and your acceptance for violence. Also take a look at prescription drugs. How can prescription drugs such as Prozac which side effects are suicidal and violent behavior be legal?

    December 17, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  24. sonny chapman

    LOL, re-read my comment.

    December 17, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  25. Jay

    I keep hearing comments made by people that keep quoting how well gun controls work or don't work in other countries. I don't care about other countries gun laws or lack of gun laws. I do care about the country I live in. In the country I live in I shouldn't have to worry about children lives being ended violently by unstable people with access to high powered military style guns. I don't want to move around in a society surrounded by guns; in malls, in schools, in theaters. I am tried of hearing about these horrific mass killing events. Most of which are being perpetrated by , not the criminals, but by supposingly law abidding citizens who have a right to own guns. Stop worrying about a government takeover and start worrying about what's happening now! It is the will of the people that should decide how the 2nd amendment should be interpreted and how guns should be regulated not a bunch of gun manufacturers and lobbyists.

    December 17, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
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