WASHINGTON—West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin insisted Monday he is not against the Constitutional right to due process.
Manchin, who split his votes between Republican and Democrat gun amendments to the Commerce, Justice, and Science bill Monday — which all failed to pass — told The Daily Caller his remarks on MSNBC last Thursday relating to due process were taken out of context.
“The problem we have, and really the firewall we have right now is due process. It’s all due process,” Manchin said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “So we can all say we want the same thing, but how do we get there?”
Manchin, who voted against Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy’s amendment on expanding background checks on to private transfers and sales but voted for California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s terrorist watch list measure, said, “It’s what we’re trying to protect—due process,” Manchin said. “I said due process is basically what’s killing us from having a reasonable bill to move forward on, and that was just taken totally out of context.”
Feinstein’s measure was intended to block any person on the terrorist watch list from buying a firearm and let the attorney general ban someone from purchasing a firearm if there is “reasonable belief” it would be used in a terrorist act. Her amendment had been criticized for not providing law-abiding Americans who may erroneously get placed on the watch list an efficient way to get themselves removed, thereby denying them due process.
Republicans also argue that Feinstein’s amendment would only block the sale of a gun purchase by a terrorist and let him freely walk the streets, whereas Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn’s amendment would take “terrorists off the street” if a judge finds probable cause to detain that individual.
Critics of Cornyn’s bill say it would be ineffective because it doesn’t provide enough time for highly complex investigations into suspected terror-related activity. Manchin voted for Cornyn’s amendment.
Although each amendment failed, Democrats say they will continue to propose firearm legislation.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid told TheDC, “We’re gonna try it every chance we get.”
New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer told reporters that until more Republicans jump on board, gun control legislation is unlikely to pass right now. “That’s the only way we’re ever going to pass it. If we have 46 Democrats, we need 14 Republicans to get 60 votes. It’s plain and simple. If we get enough Republican votes to join Democrats in passing it will be a sea change here,” he said.
Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who engaged in an almost 15-hour filibuster of the Senate last week to bring gun control legislation to the floor, told TheDC that, ideally, if Democrats had enough votes in Congress as well as control of the White House, the party would want to pass a “comprehensive list” of changes to the nation’s gun laws.
“We want everyone to prove they’re not a criminal or potential terrorist before they buy a weapon. I don’t think assault weapons have any place in civilized society. I don’t think gun companies should get special liability protections in court. There’s a long list of fronts to repair the damage that’s been done by the gun industry owning this town for the last 20 years,” he said.
When asked if he would like to see Connecticut’s restrictive gun laws become a model for for states across the country, he replied, “Some of that stuff is appropriate for national legislation and some of it isn’t. I can’t tell you that I want Connecticut’s laws to become the national laws. I think there’s some good things Connecticut has done that should be models for national legislation. Not every state law is appropriate for federal legislation.”