U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says now is the time for serious discussions about gun restrictions in the United States.
“We have this horrific, horrific crime against our children. It needs to be dealt with and it needs to be done in the most serious fashion,” Senator Manchin said on Monday’s MetroNews Talkline, days after 20 children and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Investigators say the shooter, Adam Lanza, 20, shot his way into the school and opened fire on an entire class of young students before killing himself. He had earlier killed his mother, Nancy.
According to police, one of guns Lanza had with him was a Bushmaster .223 assault style rifle. He fired dozens of high velocity rounds from it, hitting each of the victims multiple times.
Senator Manchin says his call for a look at additional gun control measures is not about being against responsible gun ownership.
“I’m a life member and a proud member of NRA and a proud defender of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, the right to bear arms, and will always be. This is not what this is about,” he said.
He says, instead, it’s time to consider limiting the availability of high powered assault weapons, the kinds of guns the Senator says most gun owners in West Virginia do not have. “These are the people I know,” Senator Manchin said.
“I don’t know this other segment of society that believes it so imperative that they’re able to keep their assault rifles and go hunting and do all the other things they need 30 round clips and 2,000 rounds (for). I don’t know those people.”
He was scheduled to meet with representatives of the National Rifle Association on Monday and said he was planning to look at legislation from California Senator Dianne Feinstein that would reauthorize the ban on assault weapons that was in effect from 1994 to 2004.
Senator Manchin, who was also a guest on MSNBC on Monday, says discussions in the coming days, weeks and months also need to include a broader look at mental health treatment diagnosis and treatment programs in the United States.
“We have never seen the children of America slaughtered in America. We’ve never seen, never could imagine it. These are babies,” Senator Manchin said.