Manchin on gun control: Newtown has 'changed me'
December 17th, 2012
09:53 AM ET
1 year 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. CB FL

    By law you are allowed to own cats except ie:lions. You should be allowed to own guns except ie:auto weapons.

    December 17, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    grixxly wrote:

    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.
    --------------
    Dude, no one survived his attack. There were no injured survivors. He killed everyone that he encountered.

    The 2nd Amendment speaks about a "well regulated militia", not unregulated anarchy.

    December 17, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. grixxly

    @CB FL

    Except you can actually own a lion... plus an automatic weapon wasn't used. An AR-15 is NOT an automatic weapon.

    December 17, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. grixxly

    @Rudy NYC

    The AR-15 is a professional, more rugged, version of the Bushmaster 223 constructed with better materials....for those who don't know.
    -–

    The Bushmaster 223 IS an AR-15... Bushmaster isn't the highest quality but it is an AR-15... so not quite accurate

    December 17, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    grixxly wrote:

    @CB FL Except you can actually own a lion... plus an automatic weapon wasn't used. An AR-15 is NOT an automatic weapon.
    ------------
    No, the AR-15, Bushmaster-223, is a semi-automatic assault rifle.

    December 17, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. grixxly

    @Rudy NYC

    Dude, no one survived his attack. There were no injured survivors. He killed everyone that he encountered.

    The 2nd Amendment speaks about a "well regulated militia", not unregulated anarchy.
    --

    Not true. Two victims what were wounded did survive. And well regulated militia did not have the same meaning as it does today.

    December 17, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. SEC

    Yeah because banning law abiding people from being able to purchase certain types/ammo is going to help. The CT school shooter wasn't able to buy a gun so he stole it from his mother who he also killed. The people who do these things go to these places because they know no one else would have a type of weapon there. Schools, Malls? Pretty common place people are banned from carrying weapons on to the grounds and in to the building.

    People who want to do these types of things will always find a way to get the weapons all we're going to do is limit the type/number of weapons from some one who does follow the law on it and safety. Try aiming for the mental health field and helping Teachers identify students who could be a problem and get them the help they need. Parents need to stop ignoring the fact their child is withdrawn and out there and stop thinking of it as a phase and get them the help they need. All of these shooters the one common thing "they were always quiet and kept to themself" is a saying you hear echoing after any of these shootings.

    December 17, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. v_mag

    This incident has brought out the heroes and cowards. The unarmed teachers who put themselves in harms way to safeguard their children are the heroes. The chicken crap little perverts who feel they need assault weapons to defend themselves are clearly the cowards.

    If they were real men, they would gladly give up their murder weapons to potentially save future 6 and 7 year-olds from insane killers. Anyone who can't protect his home with a shotgun is not much of a man. Any coward who thinks he needs an assault weapon this month is likely to demand an RPG or tank next month.

    December 17, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. grixxly

    @Rudy NYC

    No, the AR-15, Bushmaster-223, is a semi-automatic assault rifle.
    --

    Not sure what you're trying to say... AR-15 = semi-automatic (NOT AUTOMATIC) = Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic (NOT AUTOMATIC) so... The AR-15 is a design, not a make; lot's of companies make an AR-15.

    December 17, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. grixxly

    @v_mag

    Disingenuous much?

    December 17, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    grixxly wrote:

    Not sure what you're trying to say... AR-15 = semi-automatic (NOT AUTOMATIC) = Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic (NOT AUTOMATIC) so... The AR-15 is a design, not a make; lot's of companies make an AR-15.
    ------------------
    That is exactly the point that I was debunking. You declared that the AR-15 is not an automatic weapon, which is TRUE. But, that is also willfully misleading, causing people to believe that an assault weapon was not used.

    BTW, most people before this incident probably do not equate "AR-15" with the type of weapon used by the attacker.

    December 17, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  12. Mike

    The only injustice would be to do nothing. Seeing the photos of those little children and realizing that someone shot them multiple times was too much. It will be impossible to completely regulate whatever is decided. To allow automatic weapons with large gun clips is wrong. They are made for killing a lot of peopel in a short amount of time. I wonder if our founding fathers could have envisioned these types of weapons when they drew up the second amendment?

    December 17, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. ghostriter

    This is stupid. I'm sorry, but we are at the point where arming citizens against a tyrannical government makes about as much sense as new laws for pirates. Our armed forces have grown so large that if it were to come down to us vs them, it wouldn't be a contest. Plus, they have access to way better equipment and training. How many non-military folks can take someone out at a few hundred yards?

    December 17, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. Pete

    @grixxly,yes an AR 15 assault rifle can be modified to become an automatic by filing a couple of pieces..And yes it can kill much more so than a shot gun or pistol plus this carbine had high capacity 30 round clips so he could shoot more without reloading ..The pistols were a Glock and Sig Sauer two popular pistols used by police and security units world wide and ammo is easy with all these weapons but it looks like he didn't have to purchase any because she obviously stock piled hers in the house!!

    December 17, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. grixxly

    @Rudy NYC

    That is exactly the point that I was debunking. You declared that the AR-15 is not an automatic weapon, which is TRUE. But, that is also willfully misleading, causing people to believe that an assault weapon was not used.

    BTW, most people before this incident probably do not equate "AR-15" with the type of weapon used by the attacker.
    --

    Define "assault" weapon. AR-15's are not military weapons, they are not issued in the military, and are not used in the military. The AR-15 was originally created for the military but was sold to Colt Arms who made it an automatic weapon, designating it the M16; then creating the AR-15 as a semi-automatic for a civilian version in 1963.

    Assault weapon is a misnomer... might as well say 'ugly gun' because a bolt action rifle, or a .22 pistol as in the case of the VT shooter, could have caused as much if not more carnage.

    December 17, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  16. Thomas

    Guns are as American as Apple Pie ,

    We need a national holiday " Gun Day " , Guns made us who we are as a free people , we killed indians with guns , we won the West with Guns , the only way to win the war against more violence is superior fire power . we need Smart Guns.

    The liberal , socialist Dems will try and take our guns away ,next they will take our apple pie.

    December 17, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  17. john2397

    Really speaking by only banning guns, we are not going to resolve the issue when our own government and senators like John McCain and Graham are advocating day and nights about WAR, WAR and Wars everywhere in the world. The best way should be to stop such war mongers to be our leaders and change our culture of violence, gun diplomacy, war mongering and trigger hunger. It surely pain to see our own kids die in our schools, but still we are not getting any pain when our guns, missiles and bombs kill hundreds and thousands of kids around the globe.

    December 17, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. grixxly

    @ghostriter

    So, just roll over and don't even try to defend yourself? Thankfully our forefathers didn't take the same mindset. And hell... who's to say it would be our own military that would come down on us?

    Also the Glock/Sig argument is disingenuous; the US Army issued .38 revolvers as late as the 90's... Military uses shotguns too, btw. Oh and the Army trained with .22 rifles in the 80's as well. So the whole military designation of a weapon isn't accurate.

    December 17, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  19. Red Dog

    My Marlin 1895 lever action "deer rifle" is tube fed and holds 10 rounds. Is the Good Senator suggesting that lever action rifles need to be modified to hold only 3 rounds? Good luck with that.

    December 17, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. Chuk

    With all due respect to the victims, all this rhetoric is just that, rhetoric. It only takes a few days for everyone to go about their business and leave the family and friends of the victims with incredible pain to deal with for a very long time. Meanwhile, the NRA is busy working behind the scenes to make sure nothing comes out of this.
    If you don't believe me just think that Columbine, theater shooting, the Giffords shooting, the Virginia Tech shooting and numerous others were also considered "tipping points". "Tipping point" is just relative to the pain at the time. Once the pain subsides for everyone but the friends and relatives of the victims, it's no longer a "tipping point".

    December 17, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. Larry trickel

    Why aren't Democrats talking about the "common threads": mental illness, broken homes. The assault weapons ban would not have taken these guns from the hands of good people.

    December 17, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  22. Erik

    In 1139 Pope Innocent II banned the crossbow as its use was considered an "abomination" due to the fact that it was basically a weapon that was too powerful because just about anyone could use it. Interestingly enough, the ban was ignored and it continued to be manufactured and procured by criminals. In 1588 Imperial Regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi banned sword ownership by commoners and allowed it only for Samurai (elites/nobles), but swords continued to be manufactured and procured by criminals. In 1968 the Nazis passed a weapons law which added to the extensive gun control laws already implemented by the former Weimar Republic. The 1968 law banned firearm ownership by Jews. Weapons Bans – always doing a lot of good throughout history.

    December 17, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. grixxly

    BTW the government endorses civilians owning and learning how to use "military grade" weapons. The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is chartered by the federal government where you can purchase weapons that were actually used in war. You can actually purchase a sniper rifle from them; all endorsed by the government.

    But that, again, misdirects the conversation. The VT shooter used a .22 pistol and killed 32 people and wounded 17.

    December 17, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. ghostriter

    grixxly, hardly what I said. I said the argument of defending ourselves from a tyrannical government is outdated. IF our government went down that road, citizens would be pretty much helpless. We'd have to rely on those in power to come to our side. Hypothetical and rather stupid, but that's what it would come down to.

    What, have you been watching Red Dawn (both versions)? Let's try it this way....if an outside force was able to take down our well trained military, which is the best in the world, what chance would Billy Bob and the gang have?

    You wanna defend your self and your "right", fine. But let's lose the tyrannical government argument.

    December 17, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  25. John B.

    Yes sir, 3-shell clips is common sense. But way, way too many Americans DO NOT have common sense. Therein is the root of the problem!

    December 17, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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