Lifelong NRA member and hunting aficionado Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) spoke out in support of tighter gun safety laws after the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Manchin appeared on CNBC Monday morning to expand on his change of heart and explain why hunters should not fear a ban on assault weapons or high-capacity clips:
I’ve been a hunter all my life. The culture in West Virginia is hunting and sporting and we love it, it’s part of who we are. But we’re taught at a very young age how to do it responsibly and respect the weapons and learn to use them safely for the purpose of hunting and sporting. With that being said, I’ve never been hunting with anyone with an assault weapon. I’ve never been hunting with anyone with multiple clips of ten, fifteen, thirty rounds in it. In deer hunting we maybe have 3 shells in our gun, and that’s the sport of what we do. I just think that when you have my friend Chuck Schumer basically saying that we should look at these larger clips, those are something we should be talking about. And when you have Joe Lieberman, just the most decent human being, saying listen, this is bigger, it’s about mental illness, it’s about keeping our children safe in our schools. [...] We’ve had horrific crimes throughout our country but never have we seen so many of our babies put in harm’s ways and their life taken from them. That’s changed me and it’s changed most Americans, I think.
The NRA has maintained its silence on the elementary school massacre, avoiding the Sunday talk shows and deleting its Facebook page. Still, some of their strongest supporters are reconsidering their stance on gun rights. Besides Manchin, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough also called for reform Monday despite his dedication to gun rights and the NRA as a congressman. Manchin’s colleagues, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) have prepared legislation to ban assault weapons and high-capacity clips for the 113th Congress to take up at the beginning of 2013.