It's time to move forward on legislation that will keep guns out of the hands of extremists and others who should never have their hands on weapons, Sen. Joe Manchin said Thursday.
Further, Manchin demanded that loopholes be closed that allow people on the nation's no-fly list to purchase guns.
"If you don't take advantage of a crisis, if you don't use and seize the moment, try to move the public policy forward, shame on you," the West Virginia Democrat told MSNBC's
"Morning Joe" program. "I come from a gun culture state. I understand it. No one is going to protect Second Amendment rights more than myself."
Manchin holds a lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association, and at one time marked a 100 percent vote rating from the organization
Lawmakers need to step forward in the wake of incidents like the Orlando nightclub massacre last weekend that left 49 dead, said Manchin, and say, "this is not who we are. We weren't trained this way."
And legislation Manchin and other Democrats want to see passed will both help those with mental illness while protecting schoolchildren, an issue that came to the forefront after 20 children were slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
"I was a governor," Manchin told the program. "No one said, 'Governor, you've got to make sure every school you build on the first floor has bulletproof windows.'"
At Sandy Hook, he explained, the gunman shot through windows to hit children.
"That was something new to us," said Manchin. "We never knew that. We're learning. If you don't take advantage and make changes, what's the purpose of being in public office?"
Closing the loopholes will allow law abiding gun buyers to still have weapons while keeping guns from being sold "to people who are unstable," he continued.
"This dialogue we have going on right now, Democrats and Republicans, all of us, all of our friends, they don't want terrorists to have guns," said Manchin. "I said, 'If that's the case, then, make sure they can't get them.'"
Part of the problem, said Manchin, is concerns about due process.
"If a person is on the terrorist watch list like the gentleman, the shooter in Orlando, twice by the FBI ... they did everything they could," said Manchin, but it was not enough to keep him away from being able to legally purchase guns.
And most gun owners are law abiding and won't do anything wrong and don't need to worry about having their weapons taken away under the laws he favors, but "if a person commits a crime," then their guns would be taken.
"As long as you continue to demonize a person who lawfully buys a gun, law abiding gun owner, thinking they are a criminal, do something wrong, you're going to have the division we have now," the Senator said.
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