Notoriously pro-gun Senator says Newtown tragedy should start gun control debate

US Senator Joe Manchin (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)
US Senator Joe Manchin (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)
US Senator Joe Manchin (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative member of the National Rifle Association who has voted in support of many pro-gun laws, has emphasized the need to talk about new regulations on assault weapons.

After the mass shooting at an Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut left 26 dead, many have called for a serious discussion on gun control – including the notoriously pro-gun senator.  Manchin, a conservative Democrat representing West Virginia, became infamous after releasing during his election campaign a video ad showing him brandishing a rifle, promising to protect the Second Amendment and shooting a gun at a copy of the Cap and Trade bill. But after the Newtown tragedy the senator criticized the ease at which Americans can purchase assault weapons that can kill dozens of people in just a few minutes.

“I’m a proud outdoors-man and huntsman, like many Americans, and I like shooting, but this doesn’t make sense,” he said on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’. “I don’t know anyone in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle. I don’t know anybody that needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting. I mean, these are things that need to be talked about.”

Gun rights advocates have often avoided the conversation, claiming that a ban on assault weapons would lead to further gun control laws that could eventually repeal the Second Amendment. But Manchin said the Second Amendment should not protect the right to own weapons designed for combat.

Manchin was endorsed by the National Rifle Association for his recent reelection, and is an A-rated member of the NRA. The group considers itself “America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights”, but Manchin believes he can mobilize its members into a discussion on gun control.

“I want to call all our friends at the NRA and sit down,” he said. “They have to be at the table. This is a time for all of us to sit down and move in a responsible manner. I think they will.”

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