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Friday’s mass shooting of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut has shaken the nation to its core. When President Obama, in his moving speech on Sunday night to a grieving community at a Newtown prayer vigil, said, “These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change,” perhaps he was talking about pro-gun politicians like West Virginia’s Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who this morning came out for gun control action.

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, in the same segment in which host Joe Scarborough also reversed his stance on gun control, Manchin discussed the need for more gun safety regulations and pledged to support Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)’s reintroduction of a bill to ban assault weapons on the first day of the new Congress. On Twitter, Manchin threw his support behind retiring Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman’s proposal for a bipartisan commission on gun violence.

Getting Manchin behind new gun control laws is a significant development, considering he is not only endorsed by the National Rifle Association, but received an “A” rating from the gun rights lobbying organization and was the top Democratic recipient of NRA campaign contributions in the last election cycle. And of course who can forget Manchin’s TV ad, when he fired a rifle at a cap-and-trade bill?

On the show, he said “I want to call all our friends at the NRA and sit down. They have to be at the table. This is a time for all of us to sit down and move in a responsible manner. I think they will.”

Perhaps the biggest question now is if Manchin is alone in his view, or whether the dominoes will start to fall and other NRA-endorsed political leaders will come out for stricter gun control measures. And will the NRA join the discussion and maybe even get behind common sense gun safety laws, or will they retreat — or possibly come out more boldly against gun control?

“Seeing the massacre of so many innocent children has changed everything,” Manchin said. “Everything has to be on the table.”

Photo credit: AP/Dave Martin, File

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