Life-Long Gun Advocates Call For Sensible Gun Safety, Admit Connecticut Shooting ‘Changed Everything’

A growing number of gun advocates are calling for sensible gun safety regulations in the aftermath of Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) — a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association — spoke out in favor of regulating assault weapons during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday, calling such laws “common sense.”

“I want to call all our friends in the NRA, sit down and have this discussion,” he explained. “Bring them into it. They have to be at the table. We all have to”:

MANCHIN: I just came with my family from deer hunting. I’ve never had more than three shells in a clip. Sometimes you don’t get more than one shot anyway. It’s common sense. It’s time to move beyond rhetoric. We need to sit down and have a common sense discussion and move in a reasonable way.

Manchin’s comments followed Joe Scarbarough’s declaration of support for gun safety. The former Florida Congressman received the NRA’s highest ratings over his four terms in Congress, but on Monday he opened Morning Joe with a monologue in which he admitted that the tragedy “changed everything.” Scarbrough called for a comprehensive approach that addresses what he called “the toxic brew of a violent popular culture, a growing mental health cris, and the proliferation of combat-styled weapons”:

SCARBOROUGH: I knew that day that the ideologies of my past career were no longer relevant to the future that I want, that I demand for my children. Friday changed everything. It must change everything. We all must begin anew and demand that Washington’s old way of doing business is no longer acceptable. Entertainment moguls don’t have an absolute right to glorify murder while spreading mayhem in young minds across america. And our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-styled, high-caliber, semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high-capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want. It is time for Congress to put children before deadly dogmas. It’s time for politicians to start focusing more on protecting our school yards than putting together their next fund-raiser.

The NRA has remained silent in the wake of the tragedy, pulling down its Facebook page, while its Congressional allies refused to appear on the Sunday morning talk shows. But gun safety advocates aren’t about to let the urgent moment of action pass. During a prayer vigil in Newtown last President Obama promised to “use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.” “Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard,” he asked. Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

Meanwhile, lawmakers plan to introduce a renewed ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Advocates have also called on states to post their mental health records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and additional legislation requiring full background check on all gun transactions. Polls show that even NRA members back these reforms.