CHARLES TOWN – Sen. Joe Manchin said in an interview Tuesday that groups running ads indicating that he supports sweeping gun control measures are not being truthful.
“Let me make it very clear: the only thing I’m working on is a criminal and mental background check,” Manchin said. “Anything else people have heard is basically a lie. They are just trying to get people excited and scared.”
Political pundits have wondered in recent weeks where centrist Democrats from Blue Dog states, like Manchin, will stand on an assault weapons ban and a bill limiting magazine capacity that are expected to be introduced during this congressional session.
Manchin said he is opposed to such measures himself and thinks they would not make it through the Senate.
“If some Senators introduce that assault weapons ban, that’s not going anywhere,” he said, adding he is also opposed to gun registration proposals.
Manchin said he is drafting a bill with a group of other senators that would force many, though not all, gun sales to involve a background check.
“Basically we are saying that if you go to a gun show and a gun is purchased, there should be a background check. If you go online, there should be a background check,” he said, adding that the bill would contain exemptions for family members, sanctioned sporting clubs and some other sales conditions.
Manchin said the bill was developed by a bipartisan group including both Democrats and Republicans. He would not say what other senators are involved in drafting the bill.
“If you start using names and you start negotiating in the media, you don’t get much negotiation done,” he said. “We’re working very hard. Right now it is bipartisan – Democrats and Republicans – and we are hoping there’ll be more. It is a very good piece of legislation.”
Manchin promises the bill would include measures to help ensure that states would share information with the background check database to keep individuals with criminal or mental health histories from obtaining firearms.
“Our problem in America is that the wrong people are able to get the guns,” he said.”This bill will make it more efficient with the technology we have today. States need to do a better job of reporting.”