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Sen. Manchin out of character in gun debate


Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013

Updated: Thursday, April 11, 2013 23:04

Wednesday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced a bi-partisan gun control bill alongside Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in a move that will likely raise the eyebrows of National Rifle Association members in West Virginia.

Manchin, a life long member of the NRA who has distanced himself from President Barack Obama’s left-leaning gun control policies, has shifted his stance and has taken a middle-ground approach in the months after the Sandy Hook massacre.

“It [Sandy Hook] has changed me,” Manchin said in a MSNBC interview in December. “We can protect Second Amendment rights, and we will protect it, but we can also look at ways that we can make our country and children more safe.”

Manchin is not the only one to re-evaluate gun control in the wake of Sandy Hook, which fired up an already heated debate on Capitol Hill. Four months after the massacre, it seems as if Washington is as divided as ever.

Bridging the divide on Capitol Hill is no small task, but Manchin’s deal may be enough to push expanded gun control laws over the bloated hill.

Fresh off of a re-election, Manchin’s senate seat is secure until 2018, which is probably a good thing considering West Virginia has a subversive “gun-culture” where it is all about God, guns and guts.

Manchin is a smart politician — his rise to power from the West Virginia House of Delegates to the United States Senate shows that — but his waffling on gun control is out of character considering his staunch pro-gun stance. In 2010, Manchin ran an ad where he claimed he would take “dead aim” and shoot down Obama’s Cap and Trade Bill. The ad depicted Manchin firing a rifle round into a copy of the bill. That does not sound like someone who would be at the forefront of gun control legislation.

Has Sandy Hook really changed Manchin, or is this a strategic political maneuver to gain national attention?
While Manchin’s bill is a watered down compromise compared to the harsh assault weapons ban Obama wanted, it is a step in the right direction to legally expand background checks for gun buyers at gun shows and Internet sales.


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