Manchin says gun safety provisions have been a long time coming

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., says revisions to federal gun policy are long overdue.

“The framework, first of all, we haven’t done anything in 30 years as difficult as it is. I’ve been frustrated for a long time,” he said Monday on “MetroNews Talkline.”

Manchin was part of a bipartisan group of 20 senators that announced a deal Sunday on a framework of possible gun legislation.

“So to have something that we have a basis of agreement within Republicans, I think we have more than that,” he said Monday. “I think is a great start. It’s a process. It’s very difficult and challenging times when people are divided in politics are so divided, so I think, to have that many people come together and say we have to start so that’s what we did.”

The agreement is a response to multiple shootings within the last month, including the May 24 shooting in Uvalde, Texas in which 19 children and two teachers died.

The proposal includes:

— Funding to encourage states set up their own “red flag” laws, allowing law enforcement officials or family members to submit petitions to a court to temporarily remove guns from people considered a threat to themselves or others.

— As much as $7 billion in funding for school safety and mental health clinics, including telehealth programs.

— Closing the “boyfriend loophole,” which means that domestic violence abusers and people subject to domestic violence restraining orders– including romantic partners — will be subject to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System run by the FBI.

— New restrictions on “straw purchases” of guns, meant to cut down on illegal weapons trafficking.

— Enhanced background checks on gun buyers under age 21, including checks of juvenile criminal and mental health records.

— New restrictions on gun sellers who skirt federal firearms licensing requirements.

In a press conference with West Virginia reporters on Monday, Manchin noted senators are “not finished” with the plan and the group is continuing to receive input.

“I think we’re going to get something done,” he said. “Hopefully, maybe, it’s as early as this week.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., on Sunday told MetroNews she will consider the framework and the related legislative text before announcing her stance on the proposal.

The group’s announcement follows two House of Representatives votes on gun legislation; the chamber passed a “red flag” law allowing federal courts to prevent some people from accessing guns as well as a bill raising the age for buying semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21. West Virginia Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller opposed the measures. Miller has backed legislation that would create tax deductions for gun training, concealed carry courses, and purchasing gun safes and safety devices.

Gov. Jim Justice previously shared concerns with “red flag” laws. Justice on Monday praised the bipartisan talks in the U.S. Senate, but said it’s important to see more details.

“I think it’s good when any of our politicians in D.C. decide to work together and see if we can get across the finish line to where we can adopt some federal law that works for all of us, he said.

But on “red flag” laws, Justice emphasized the need for due process assurances.

“We don’t want [to be] invaded upon if individuals don’t have due process,” he noted Monday.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has described “red flag” laws as “the wrong solution to the violence we are seeing.”

In 2021, Justice signed the “West Virginia 2nd Amendment Preservation and Anti-Federal Commandeering Act” to say federal gun policy could not encroach on the state’s policies. West Virginia’s law describes red flag policies as “an anathema to law-abiding West Virginians who cherish their natural rights and liberties.”

That law says no court in the state has the authority to issue an order taking away the guns or ammunition under a red flag law. The state law also forbids police from enforcing a red flag law “when the person against whom the order is directed has the lawful right under the laws of this state to possess firearms.”

Manchin contended the “red flag” laws outlined in the federal framework will include due process provisions at the state and federal levels.

“I would hope that the governor and the Legislature would look at some of this,” he said on “Talkline.”

“There’s going to be incentive to do it.”

MetroNews’ Brad McElhinny and Alex Thomas contributed to this story.

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