WASHINGTON, DC — The bill introduced by U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey soon after the Sandy Hook School shooting five years ago may be resurrected in the wake of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida.
The measure increases background checks for gun sales among unlicensed gun sellers particularly at gun shows and over the internet. It would still allow for the sale of guns among family members or among friends without a background check. The measure was defeated five years ago, but since then Manchin believes the climate of the debate has changed. He said for starters, it has always been a bi-partisan bill and also the bill is the most vetted piece of legislation in Washington. But he has no interest in revisiting the idea a second time unless President Donald Trump is willing to accept it.
“I think it’s imperative he has to get on board with what he feels comfortable with and protects second amendment rights, just as I do, and we go from there,” Manchin said in speaking about the legislation on MetroNews Talkline.
Manchin drew heavy criticism from many longtime supporters who believed it was the first step toward increased gun control measures and a slippery slope to erode second amendment rights. Manchin said then, and reiterated today, his bill would not take those drastic measures that people feared. He believed few read the bill and simply relied on critics to make up their mind.
“You can do individual to individual (gun sales) because law abiding gun owners aren’t going to sell their guns to strangers, idiots, criminals, or terrorists. They just won’t do it,” said Manchin. “You have to assume a person with a gun is a law abiding gun owner.”
Manchin said his concern was the ability to buy a gun from an unlicensed dealer where a background check is not required. He called it a loophole which needed to be closed.
Since the Parkland, Florida shooting much of the concentration has been on potentially raising the minimum age to buy a firearm. Manchin isn’t completely on board with that idea, believing there are plenty of 18, 19, or 20 year olds who are completely mature and could legitimately be trusted with a gun.
He added the other difference between now and five years ago is the atmosphere surrounding gun ownership in Washington DC.
“People were afraid of the previous administration not being a gun friendly administration,” he said. “There was a fear if they did one thing, then more would be taken. People don’t believe President Trump is going to infringe on their second amendment rights whatsoever.”
But the Senator stressed unless the President is ready to support the bill, he would not reintroduce it. He hopes to meet with the President on the matter soon.