Ryan Grim Sep 17, 2013
WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Tuesday that he will revisit the idea of passing gun safety legislation in the wake of Monday’s mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. He told reporters he plans to meet with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), with whom he cosponsored a bill to expand background checks that died in the Senate earlier this year.
The violence and the resulting crime scene just blocks from the Capitol, Manchin said, had made it difficult for many of his colleagues to fly back into D.C., and so he hadn’t had a chance to speak to them about the bill. “I’ll see Pat today,” Manchin said, adding that he was open to changing the legislation. “I’m willing to work with all my colleagues. [But] I’m not going to support a loophole.”
If he can’t find the votes, he said, he won’t force the Senate to go on record again. He said he’d rather wait to see whether his fellow senators change their minds on the issue. “It’s ridiculous to put people back on if there’s not support,” he said.
Manchin is also open to moving on a bill that would improve mental health services and block the mentally ill from purchasing weapons. The suspected shooter on Monday was reportedly hearing voices, yet he was able to obtain his gun legally.
“Maybe we could’ve kept that guy from getting a gun, I don’t know,” he said. “How do you go and tell some child that your dad is not coming home? It’s just unfathomable to me. To be in a position where we could prevent somebody [from buying a weapon] through a legitimate commercialized background check, so they just can’t run down and grab a gun at a gun show or can’t go online, we’re not infringing on anybody’s rights.”
Manchin said he was not deterred by last week’s recall of two pro-gun-control legislators in Colorado, where the NRA flexed its muscles after tough gun legislation was passed there.
“Look at the bill that Colorado passed. That was truly gun control. Background checks is not gun control,” he said. “It is not gun control. It is background checks, which is gun sense.”
He said that a more holistic approach to the U.S. culture of violence was also needed. “Video games, we understand, played a big part in this man’s life,” he said. “Why has our society gotten so much more violent? Why are we so tolerant toward violence?”