W. Va. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has been speaking privately with the National Rifle Association over expanding firearms background checks — a move that could help defeat an expected GOP filibuster of the overall gun control bill.
Manchin, who describes himself as a “proud West Virginia NRA member,” has been trying to win over Republican senators for several weeks, reports Politico
. However, Republicans have been reluctant to embrace any aspects of the proposed gun control law expected out next month. A NRA agreement with Manchin could go a long way toward changing the debate.
The West Virginia senator says he hasn't given up on gun control legislation, even though he is an NRA ally and hunting enthusiast.
“We recognize that something needs to be done — responsible and reasonable,” said Manchin, according to Politico. “So many take an approach where you own a gun, someone that owns a gun, something is wrong with you. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t own a gun.”
He added his efforts are “dedicated to preventing criminals and those adjudicated mentally ill from purchasing firearms, and not criminalizing law-abiding gun owners.”
Neither NRA nor Manchin are discussing the full extent of their talks, and Andrew Arulanandam, an NRA spokesman said the organization has “conversations with elected officials, including members of Congress, on a daily basis.”
Arulanandam said the NRA will remain strongly opposed “to criminalizing private transfers between two law-abiding people.”
But while the NRA opposes most gun control laws, it does back a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Jeff Flake, R-Arizona; and Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas, that expands the scope of mental health information submitted to the background check system.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants any gun control bill approved to include a plan for tougher background checks.
If the NRA gives Manchin's plan a neutral rating, it could sway some Republican votes, political experts say.
Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer also worked with Manchin to pursue a deal with Republicans. Manchin says mental health and criminal background checks should be improved and loopholes at gun shows and on the Internet should be closed.
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