The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 19, 2013

Manchin says NRA told ‘bald-face lie’ to defeat gun control legislation

By Carra Higgins
Register-Herald Reporter

— The National Rifle Association’s words used to oppose the amendment for gun control legislation in the U.S. Senate are “a bald-face lie,” U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told state media Thursday afternoon via telephone conference.

Manchin says those who have read the proposed legislation, which was defeated Wednesday, understand that it does not take away gun owner rights and he is hopeful individuals will educate themselves about the bill.

U.S. Senate President Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced Thursday that the full bill and amendment have been pulled, but could be reconsidered at a later date. Manchin said he’s unsure when another vote might happen, but in the meantime, he is asking that individuals not only read the bill, but also that his colleagues go back to their home states and educate their constituents about “misleading” information being disseminated about the amendment he co-sponsored.

“I think it’s a great bill,” he said. “This is not President (Barack) Obama’s bill. It was truly crafted from the middle. ... It’s not extreme right or left.”  

Manchin explained that prior to voting, he spoke with his constituents involved with hunting and shooting groups. They did not oppose the “common sense” legislation that was crafted over approximately three months, he said. The 49-page amendment and an outline are available for public review at www .manchin.senate.gov.

“The facts set you free,” Manchin commented.

Instead of the NRA providing the public with information about the amendment they know is “wrong,” Manchin said he would rather the organization simply say they oppose the bill and less government. Manchin added that he still wants “constructive involvement” with all interested parties, including the NRA, but the interest group needs to have its “facts straight.”

Manchin said the NRA has told people that their rights to give guns as gifts to friends and family or to buy or sell with friends and neighbors will be restricted. Manchin said that’s simply not true. He explained that if a person lists a gun on the Internet, they would have to proceed with a background check of the buyer; however, an online sale to a friend or neighbor doesn’t make much sense.

Also, Manchin’s co-sponsored amendment specifically states that a gun registry cannot be created and anyone attempting to do so will be charged with a felony and penalized with a prison sentence and/or fine. The NRA has said further gun control legislation would eventually lead to a national gun registry.

The amendment calls for putting all of the names of prohibited purchasers, such as convicted criminals and those with dangerous mental illnesses, into the background check system.

 Manchin’s amendment allows the private individual to sell or give away a gun; someone selling at a gun show would have to have a licensed firearms dealer complete a background check on the person wanting to purchase the gun before it could be sold.

Background checks would also be imposed on intrastate online purchases. Currently, individuals may buy guns from a dealer within his or her own state without going through a background check, which Manchin calls a “loophole.”

Also in the legislation amendment is the Commission on Mass Violence, which would be comprised of experts in the fields of guns, mental health, school safety, violence in the media and other aspects of the issue.

Manchin said he thinks the amended bill will eventually pass — four Republicans supported the legislation and “we just need a few more.”

Manchin has an “A” rating from the NRA and describes himself as a “proud gun owner” who understands the “gun culture.” He says his amendment protects the rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

Manchin’s Washington, D.C., office can be reached by calling 202-224-3954. His West Virginia office phone number is 304-342-5855 or toll-free at 1-855-275-5737.

— E-mail: chiggins@register-herald.com