HINTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who led the unsuccessful legislative attempt to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the deranged, said the National Rifle Association opposed his effort out of monetary interests.
Manchin, who came under fire from the NRA, in which he holds a lifetime membership, said he understands why.
“To the NRA leadership in Washington, this is big business, big money,” he said.
“You have their magazines? Losing membership that gives you the ability to sell the advertising? Just look at the magazines. Who’s doing all the advertising in the magazines? I understand that. That’s just the way of life in America. That’s capitalism.”
The West Virginia Democrat co-sponsored the bill with U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. It failed by 54-46 vote, or six shy of the required 60 for Senate passage.
Even with his rebuke by the NRA, Manchin said he expects to maintain his membership, but acknowledged the group might downgrade the A-plus rating he has carried in endorsements.
Manchin said he advised the NRA, “I used to get your magazine and think everything you told me was pretty much the gospel truth. Now, I’m finding it’s not.”
Moreover, the senator said he challenged the organization to put his bill online and let the rank-and-file vote on it.
“I bet it would pass overwhelmingly, if you put exactly the facts of the bill,” Manchin said he advised the group, but he predicted that the NRA “won’t do that.”
Manchin said there’s no guarantee any legislation could keep guns out of the hands of those bent on destruction; however, stricter laws could help. “It doesn’t stop everything,” he said. “I’m the first to tell you. But if we can prevent one person from going through another personal tragedy ...”
There are no guarantees in life, Manchin said. “The bottom line is, should you not have reasonable, sensible laws on the books?” he asked.
“I guess you can take all the speed limits off and all the stop signs down. If you’re a pure libertarian, this is probably not the country for you, if you don’t want any rules and regulations.”
Details for this sory were provided by The Register-Herald in Beckley, W.Va.