West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a pro-gun rights senator with an A rating from the National Rifle Association who shot a bullet through the cap-and-trade bill in an infamous ad from his 2010 campaign, called on Monday for a discussion about gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.
Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Manchin addressed Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman entered the school and fired on students and teachers with a semi-automatic weapon. The final death toll was 20 children and six adults.
Manchin said that such an event “changed the dialogue, and it should move beyond dialogue.”
“We need action,” he said.
Manchin described himself as an avid hunter, but said the types of weapons used in Friday’s shooting were not those used by hunting enthusiasts.
“I don’t know anyone in the hunting or sporting arena that goes out with an assault rifle,” he said. “I don’t know anybody that needs 30 rounds in the clip to go hunting. I mean, these are things that need to be talked about.”
The National Rifle Association, he said, would have to be a part of any such discussion.
“Bring them into it. They have to be at the table. We all have to,” he said.
“Everything needs to be on the table,” Manchin tweeted Monday morning, “And I ask all my colleagues to sit down to talk about firearms, mental health and our culture.”
He said he was in favor of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman’s suggestion of “a commission on mass violence.”
The West Virginia senator said a discussion about mental health also needed to take place.
“This is bigger than just about the guns. It’s about how we treat people with mental illness, how we intervene, how we give them the care they need, how we protect our schools,” he said.
The fact that the majority of the victims were young children ages six and seven was something Manchin said would make people look at the issue in ways they might not have before.
“I think opening up and seeing a massacre like this, of innocent children, it’s changed things,” he said. “It’s changed America.”
“Never before have we seen our babies slaughtered. It’s never happened in America that I can recall, ever seeing this type of carnage,” he said. “Anybody, anybody that lives in America, anybody that’s a proud gun owner, anyone that’s a proud member of the NRA, they’re also proud parents, they’re proud grandparents. They understand this has changed where we go from here.”