More than 100 advocates of the Second Amendment braved frigid temperatures in Charleston Saturday to demonstrate against the recent remarks of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin.
“I just want Joe to know we don’t want him messing with the guns,” said Jeremiah Bolen of Charleston. “He should leave it alone. If you want to protect children in the schools you should put armed guards in the schools.”
The protest was organized by the West Virginia Citizens Defense League following Manchin’s statement Monday, on MetroNews Talkline and in other media outlets, he was in favor of revisiting the 1994 assault weapons ban passed by Congress. The Senator later modified his statement.
“I’m not advocating banning anything,” Manchin said on Talkline two days later. “I’m advocating a conversation on everything.”
“He stated that he wanted to have a conversation, but he stated it in the context of ‘I only need three rounds in my gun,'” said Keith Morgan, President of the WVCDL. “Ridiculous. Yeah he wants to have a conversation about banning guns is what he wants to have.”
(see Manchin statement below)
Protesters held signs referencing the Senator’s advocacy of no more than a three shot magazine for firearms. One sign with the cartoon character Elmer Fudd conveyed the Second Amendment is not about hunting.
“Criminals have 30-round clips and will always have 30-round clips,” said Morgan. “Why do you want to hamstring me to three rounds.”
“Are they advocating cars that go more than 70-miles an our,” said Bolen rhetorically. “The speed limit is only 70 why do you need to go 120?”
Most of those standing along Charleston’s Quarrier Street outside of Manchin’s office fear the next step Congress and the Obama Administration will take could start a rapid erosion of gun ownership rights.
“I think Obama is going to use executive order illegally and try to do something,” said Mark Adkins of Fayette County. “I think he’ll try to take our guns.”
Across the street a lone supporter of Manchin’s position stood silently staring at the gathered crowd. He wouldn’t make any comments to reporters, but said his sign conveyed his message. It read, “Manchin right, LaPierre Dead Wrong.” A reference to NRA President Wayne LaPierre who advocated the gun lobby’s position in a Washington press conference Friday. The NRA supports putting an armed guard in every school.
“The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre told reporters.
“We agree with that,” Morgan said. “Gun bans disarm the law abiding and insure only criminals have adequate means of self defense.”
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin released the following statement following Saturday’s protest.
I welcome this conversation and an open dialogue with members of the West Virginia Citizens Defense League – and all groups that feel strongly. I hope that Keith Morgan and other members of the group will sit down with me and have an open discussion. In West Virginia, sitting down together is how we fix things.
For my part, I ask the members of the Citizens Defense League and others with strong views to be open to this discussion. My hope is that in West Virginia, we don’t go down the Washington path, where guilt by association becomes guilt by conversation. These issues are too important to ignore.
In that vein, I also continue to encourage anyone to contact my office to share your views on the issue of confronting mass violence. Since the killings of our children at Newtown, I have called for an open discussion with everything on the table, so that we can do everything in our power to prevent another horrific massacre of our most innocent children.