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Friday, October 21, 2016

On Sunday, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) badly misdiagnosed Congress’ failure to pass meaningful gun reform laws, blaming a supposedly skeptical public instead of the real culprit: the Republican minority in the Senate.

During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Manchin claimed that his bipartisan gun reform proposal — which would have expanded gun sale background checks to cover all commercial transactions — failed to become law because the public didn’t trust the government to implement it.

“The people that basically are law-abiding gun owners and understand gun culture, they weren’t offended by saying if you go to a commercial transaction, that it makes sense to go ahead and find out is that person that wants to buy your gun a criminal,” Manchin said.

“What we found out is that people just didn’t trust government, that they were going to stop there,” he continued. “So they said hey Joe, we’re OK with the bill. We like the bill. The bill is not bad at all. We can live with that. But we just don’t trust government stopping and doing what we say we’re going to do. ”

Manchin is right that all gun owners didn’t hate his proposal; even some prominent “gun rights” groups supported the plan.

But he is dead wrong on the cause of the bill’s demise. Overwhelming majorities of Americans supported toughening gun laws both before and after the Manchin-Toomey amendment failed to advance through the Senate. In fact, nearly half a year after the Senate killed the legislation, 76 percent supported expanding background checks even further than Manchin-Toomey would have done. Voters weren’t afraid that government would take gun reform too far; if anything, they thought that Manchin-Toomey compromise didn’t go far enough.

In reality, gun reform stalled in 2013 for just one reason: Republican obstruction in the Senate. A 54-vote majority supported the gun reform legislation — but that wasn’t enough to overcome a Republican filibuster. Senate Republicans simply had no interest in forging a compromise with Democrats and the White House, despite popular support for the bill.

As this map from The Century Foundation makes clear, the senators who blocked the bill not only represent a minority of the Senate, but also an even smaller minority of the United States:

Gun reform map

Manchin went on to acknowledge the difficulty of overcoming a Republican filibuster in the future, saying that “We have 55 Democrats,” and “I think all 55 would consider” taking up gun reform again. But he added that “it’s going to be difficult to get the extra votes that we need.”

He’s certainly right about that. With the 2014 midterms looming, it’s hard to imagine many Republicans crossing party lines to support a gun reform bill (and even if they did, the bill would be dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives). Unless and until voters prove that they will make elected officials pay for dragging their feet on gun safety, expect Republicans to continue blocking any action on the issue — a task that becomes even easier when Democrats like Manchin refuse to call them out for their intransigence.

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • docb

    Mr. Manchin was a bright star until he showed his true colors…Which are more red than blue…Sadly. He has been mistaken on most issues as a result!

    • Independent1

      doc, what’s especially disappointing is that he’s not the only supposed Democrat who seems to have more red than blue. Somehow what I think are GOP moles, need to be voted out in the 2014 primaries so they don’t even come up for a vote as a Democrat.

      • docb

        Think the Nation is more centrist that hard left or right. What we need are Patriots from both sides who are beholden to the voter not ideology or the Corporate $$$ trough!
        A pipe dream but I am hopeful that the revelations of the past 3 years will solidify the electorate to want people elected to benefit them. Voter suppression, cruelty to the poor, children, veterans, women, and the rest of the vulnerable Shall NOT STAND from the repub baggers! GOTV in 2014 2016!

        Back at you, Indie! Happy Holidays.

  • FT66

    Manchin is almost wrong in everything. He was also wrong when he said ACA/Obamacare must be delayed until 2015. Really! ACA is all about rescuing peoples lives. How can anyone who knows how valuable lives are, can come with this idea ?

    • Independent1

      Because as docb pointed out, he seems actually more red than blue. I’m starting to get the notion that what we may have in Congress are some Republican moles. Legislators like Manchin who really have more right-wing leanings than left, but because they may not be able to win a Republican primary, choose to run as Democrats; but when they get into Congress, they end up voting more with the Repubs than with the Dems; and unfortunately, even espousing right-wing misguided notions..

  • Bill Thompson

    When all is said and done gun reform turns into political suicide the monies that will be brought to bear against your campaign will be enormous and they know it.

  • centerroad

    Manchin strikes me as a bit of a dim bulb, who is following the lowest common denominator to reelection, instead of leading West Virginia out of the coal era.

  • John Pigg

    It’s hard to get moderates and independents who love guns on the bandwagon for gun reform.

    Most of the ardent cheerleaders of gun control are those who would like to take it a lot further than what is politically possible.

    There are numerous Democrats in my area who have exactly the kind of concerns Manchin is talking about.