Manchin not concerned about backlash on guns

The Democratic senator, who is a member of the NRA, said the "toxic atmosphere" of Washington shouldn't prevent lawmakers from addressing gun violence in the wake of Friday's mass shooting in Connecticut.

"There's always going to be, I guess movement or political backlash on anything and everything. The easiest vote in Washington is a 'no' vote, vote for nothing, you don't really have to explain, but if you're willing move forward and for the sake of our children … do we have such a toxic atmosphere, political toxic atmosphere, that we can't sit and have a mature, intelligent decision?" he said. 

Manchin has been a strong advocate of gun ownership rights and was endorsed by the National Rifle Association Political Victory in October with an "A" rating. On Monday he said that the mass shooting of young at a Connecticut elementary school has "changed the dialogue" on gun control.

The West Virginia lawmaker said he would continue to "fervently" protect the 2nd Amendment , while addressing ways to prevent a future massacre.

"I'm a proud [NRA] member and I will always be, but with that I'm also a responsible parent and a grandparent. I think we need to look at how we handle mental illness, all of this needs to be talked about, cultural violence, how have we gotten to where we are today?" he said.

Manchin lamented the state of Congress where legislators are "afraid to talk" to each other for fear of political backlash.

"You know it's a shame, in Washington, you know I've been here for two years as a U.S. senator, I've seen almost a guilt by association, people afraid to talk to other people to get a truly constructive dialogue, because they were afraid they'd be tainted or targeted," Manchin said.