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. Name

    The NRA goes silent whenever a shooting tragedy happens. Cowards.

    December 17, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  2. WestVA

    Take your bow Manchin. You're on your way out

    December 17, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  3. babs

    Part of the problem is guns. We can enact regulations and I think we should. However, MOST of the problem is an America with an "Old west" fixation. This country loves guns and the violance they bring. They show what big men we are. They're our trophy. Don't know of a way to fix that. Some of us have the "Right to own guns" so deeply inbedded in the brain it's part of our DNA. THAT's the real problem. I can't figure out who needs to die for people to get a clue. Schools, shopping malls, theaters.... whatever. The love of guns is bigger and I fear it always will be.

    December 17, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  4. Woody26764

    Is this the same Joe Manchin that won his seat the first time by shooting the Obamacare bill with a rifle? One thing is for sure, Joe has decided his own fate......West Virginians will remember this at the polls next election.

    December 17, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  5. Data Driven

    Getting Blue Dogs like Manchin and Warner on the sanity bus will be critical to change. The President's historic speech at Newton last weekend will also help.

    The mass murders, if they can't stopped entirely, can at least be SLOWED by rigorous restrictions. The media can also help by not spending hours covering the minutiae of these psychos' lives. That's what a lot of them want, I'd reckon - post-mortem attention. Stop giving it to them, CNN et al.

    December 17, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  6. JerPell

    I own guns, 9 handguns. I am also an avid deer hunter, I own 6 hunting rifles and 4 shotguns.....Why in the world does anyone in this country need a firearm built for war. I have no place in my collection for an assault rifle, What would I use it for anyway?

    December 17, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  7. Squigman

    Shame it didn't change your mind before the deaths of 20 children, and 6 adults.

    December 17, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  8. disco

    The Definition of Gun is the Problem. I would say Guns with fire power as of "December 15, 1791" and not beyond "December 15, 1791".

    December 17, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  9. Atom Micronizer

    Getting less money from the NRA now, Joe?

    December 17, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  10. CBR

    As we find out more about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School we can begin a dialogue with everyone invited to the table. We need to give everyone who wishes the right to speak or write about the topics of guns and mental health.

    The 2nd amendment is talked about all the time. but do we really quote it correctly or do was understand what was meant by the framers of the constitution. Unfortunately, people view the ownership of guns in one way – the right to bear arms. Certainly the right to bear arms is significant but so is the types of guns selected The ammo today is so powerful and offer the shooter more chances to hit the mark.

    Now is the time to look at all the guns available and to see which are used for hunting and which are used for collections. Gun owners need to be sure that the guns are very secure when not in use. Gun owners need to use the correct ammo but not ammo that allows you to fire multiple times without reloading. We can do this and do it right.

    December 17, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  11. JennyTX

    How did the NRA and Grover Norquist get SUCH a strangle hold on this country???

    December 17, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  12. Data Driven

    By the way, someone here thought he was being quite clever by copy/pasting quotations from various Founding Fathers and other assorted 18th century thinkers and writers. Well, Abraham Lincoln resolved that whole question about an "armed citizenry" against the United States government, now didn't he? QED dude.

    I mean, really. What revolution are you going to initiate and successfully carry through? Relax, for Pete's sake. While you're relaxing, consider some of the other rights we have as Americans, like the right not to be killed en masse by a withering spray of automatic gunfire. You put up with restrictions on vehicle ownership; you can put up with restrictions on gun ownership, too.

    December 17, 2012 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  13. yogi

    Americans have an obscene fascination with guns. The sole purpose of guns is to kill, and what is so fascinating about that? It is also about time to completely ignore the NRA and their obscene grip on the congress. Enough is enough!
    Violence is glorified by millions, and the only reason that violent movies and video games are being produced is that there is a big market for these products. A 20 year old has been exposed all his life to violence on tv and in the movies, and the result is: junk in, junk out. It is baffling that people always ask "why?"after another massacre. It seems that civilization is far away from Ghandi's ideals of non-violence.

    December 17, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  14. JK

    I have been asking this simple question on all of these all day. Who will enforce these gun bans?

    December 17, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  15. skarphace

    Unfortunately, it is way too late for gun control. There are already so many guns, including assault rifles, in the hands of civilians that limiting new purchases would do no good except make it harder for those that don't currently have a gun liscence to get one. In addition, the black market for guns would expand to the point that it would make the failure of prohibition look like a success.

    So what is the solution? Higher punishment for gun crimes? More secure public areas? Arming teachers and other government workers? Tracking codes for bullets? Making those that purchase guns legally more responsible for the safety and security of those guns? None of the ideas that I have heard seem sufficient.

    Yes, we need to have this discussion. However, I personally think we are going to have to get used to the fact that it is very easy for a mentally unstable person to get ahold of guns. Until this changes, we are going to have more tragedies like the one in Connecticut. And I don't see that happening any time soon.

    December 17, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  16. DAS

    I wish laws could change. They won't. The lobby always wins. And through falsehood, but it doesn't matter. It will not change.

    December 17, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  17. Liz the First

    You can be a proud gun ownefr and still believe that assault weapons and their clips have no place in the hands of private citizens. i believe in the right to bear arms and i'm a proud Democrat! Democrats don't want to take away people's guns, they just want to bring some common sense laws to bear on the situation. if republicans still refuse to support an assault weapons ban, it'll be very obvious they care more about guns than people.

    December 17, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  18. Jason

    It's funny how people are advocating for putting armed individuals in schools now. Who is going to pay for that? Aren't you the same people that want to gut our education system, and cut all spending?

    December 17, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  19. Truth Today

    The NRA does not need to be at the table. The people that should be at the table of the parents of children slain everyday in our cities and towns. The NRA does no deserve to control the conversation. They need to live with the outcome of the conversation.

    December 17, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  20. Eric the viking

    The 2nd amendment was created during the Revolutionary War, when citizen militiaswere the defence against the English. It should not be considered immutable with the changing times. That being said, I don't think it needs to be desolved, gun rights need to be fine tuned. We should as least take some of the revenue Obama is suggesting and use it to place armed guards at schools.

    December 17, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  21. Larry L

    @grixxly wrote:

    Also "assault" rifles are not necessarily more dangerous... The VT shooter used a .22 pistol and killed 32 people.
    His primary weapon was a Glock 19 capable of firing 15 rounds of 9mm and being quickly reloaded with extra magazines. This is the problem with the N.R.A. crowd. They cherry-pick data expecting everybody else to be ignorant of guns and their capabilities. Dishonesty with the anti-gun group will cause them to rule without your input.

    December 17, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  22. jpmichigan

    War like weapons should never been allowed on neighborhood streets. More concerning is the mental health system in this country. Children with several and other emotional problems are watched and cared for, but once they become adults, they are forgotten. The very first thing local, sate and federal governments do is cut off metal health funds and close mental health facilities. In the public school the teachers are the first responders, they shield and protect the children, for the children are their first priority. Then come the police and emt. Teachers are taught how to hand children with emotional problems and are able to see and hear what most parents don't. States like Michigan the government is doing all it can to get rid of public schools and switch to charter/private school with state funding. This state forgets that these charter/private school rid themselves of problem children , and send them packing to public schools. If there are no public schools the where do the go , other than walk the streets.

    December 17, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  23. DHUTCH

    Politicians only take stands when it is politically expedient. To make a political football out of the slaughter of 20 children and six adults is as low as one can stoop! Manchin is exhibiting nothing but pure unadulterated grandstanding. If blame is to be assigned, surely the U.S. government, the largest arms dealer in the world, bears responsibility. I can't understand the mindset of Americans. We supply arms to countries all over the world to be used in the slaughter of innocent people. If guns are to be banned, ban them all including those we export to other nations such as Israel which is the largest recipient of exported arms from the U.S. I suppose it is okay as long as we are not the ones being slaughtered right?

    December 17, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  24. Americanstorm

    Hey, the kid carried two 10 round magazine pistols, are you going to ban them like cocaine is banned. Get real, sheesh!

    December 17, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  25. 21k

    since the 2nd is to allow home-grown patriots to defend against the "gubbba'mint", shouldn't we be allowed to own grenades, and 50 cal tripod mounts. or apc's? we won't do much with ak's when obama sends in our troops under un control to enslave us, right? just where does the line get drawn? and if you say, well an rpg is just TOO damn dangerous, then why is an ak still ok? not being sarcastic, just want to know where the gun nuts would draw a line.

    December 17, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
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