The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

July 5, 2013

Manchin addresses failed gun bill

HINTON — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. — who, along with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., recently crafted a bipartisan proposal calling for limited background checks on gun sales — addressed Second Amendment rights in Hinton Tuesday.

The bill was eventually shot down in the Senate.

Manchin reassured West Virginians that he’s a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and the bill he proposed banned the formation of a national registry and expanded the gun rights of veterans and members of the military.

Manchin said he initially had no intention of helping on the bill, but got involved due to his experience of being familiar with firearms and being a gun owner.

According to Manchin, lawmakers who often push for stricter gun laws, including Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., often come from a background of having had no exposure to firearms.

“In West Virginia, it’s (owning guns is) our culture,” he said. “The people I’m talking to (in Washington), they’re wanting to have gun control, and they’ve never used guns.

“They weren’t raised in a gun culture.

“So I said, before you start trying to take something away, you’ve got to acknowledge, I’m not a criminal,” Manchin stated. “If I’m a law-abiding gun owner, I’m not going to sell my gun to a stranger, to someone who is mentally incompetent, and I’m not going to give it to a family member that’s irresponsible.

“You’ve got to assume I’m going to do the right thing.”

According to Manchin, the Brady bill, passed under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, “took an awful lot of Second Amendment rights away.”

The bill Manchin helped to shape would have ensured that any purchaser at a gun show would’ve gone through a background check and any gun sold online would also need a background check.

However, it would have banned the federal government from creating a registry and would have allowed interstate handgun sales from licensed dealers. Current law only allows interstate sales of rifles and shotguns.

The Manchin-sponsored bill also would have lifted current restrictions which limit active military members to purchasing firearms only from their duty stations and would have expanded their rights to purchase from their home states and the state in which they are stationed.

Another provision of the bill permitted dealer-to-dealer sales at gun shows taking place in states where they are not residents and protected sellers from lawsuits if the buyer was cleared through the background checks system and the weapon was later used in a crime.

States would have been encouraged to update the NICS system, a national commission on mass violence would have been formed and the bill would have offered additional Second Amendment protection to veterans, Manchin said. The bill did not ban any type of firearm or ban or restrict the use of any type of bullet or size of magazine or clip.

Manchin said he heard the testimony from Newtown, Conn., residents whose children and adult loved ones were killed when Adam Lanza shot out a window at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December and killed 26 people, 20 of them children. The senator said that, rather than increasing firearm restrictions, installing shatter-proof glass on first floors of every school window and door and placing an officer in schools would be more effective at curbing similar attacks.

Manchin made his comments at the Hinton Town Hall and Hinton Dairy Queen.

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