Manchin: Gun efforts should focus on culture of ‘mass violence’

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on Sunday said that stand-alone restrictions on gun control would not pass Congress unless lawmakers also addressed the broader culture of "mass violence.”

Manchin said that the tragic shooting in an elementary school in Connecticut last month had “changed the dialogue” and that lawmakers needed a “comprehensive approach” to gun violence, during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

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"If you're just going to say it's all about guns, and we need gun changes and bans, then you're wrong," said the West Virginia senator.

Manchin said that he and fellow Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) would sponsor a bill to initiate a "commission on mass violence” and hoped Vice President Joe Biden, who is spearheading the administration’s task force on gun violence would include it in his recommendations to President Obama.

Manchin, a lawmaker with high ratings from the National Rifle Association (NRA), has said in the past that he is open to new measures to address gun violence, but has called for an approach that also tackles violence in entertainment and ways to provide better mental healthcare. 

His comments come as Vice President Biden, who is heading the White House task force on gun violence, prepares to unveil his recommendations by Tuesday. President Obama has indicated that he will press lawmakers to take up a ban on assault weapons and restrictions on the sale of high-capacity ammunition. 

Biden, who met this week, with stakeholders including the NRA, Wal-Mart, entertainment and video game industry heads and retailers, has also warned that Obama would consider “executive action” to enact gun control.

The NRA, though, blasted Biden after their meeting and charged that the White House was more focused on attacking the Second Amendment than listening to the concerns of gun owners.

Manchin on Sunday said that the administration would need to listen to gun owners to push an effective solution.

“You can't just push the NRA away and the law-abiding gun owners away—they have to be at the table,” he said.

"What I would say to all of my friends in the NRA and gun owners: that there is no way they are going to take your Second Amendment rights away. That won't happen," he added. "But we have to look at how we do we cure this culture of mass violence."

Manchin also expressed concern that gun owners might be unfairly demonized in the debate over gun violence.

“In this atmosphere that we have in Washington today, there used to be guilt by association. It's almost guilt by conversation,” said Manchin, in another interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

This story was posted at 11:20 a.m. and has been updated.