By Daniel Strauss - 02/11/13 08:18 PM EST
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Monday that he opposes an assault weapons ban.
Speaking on MSNBC, Manchin, who has an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association and in December called for federal action to reduce gun violence, said he thinks there's a better way to reduce mass shootings without introducing new restrictions for gun owners.
"I do not support an assault weapon ban because the definition of assault weapon is still hard to come by," Manchin said. "So I am not going to comment on people's legislation. I do not support that approach right now."
Manchin is part of a quartet of legislators working to tighten background checks required to purchase a gun. The other members of the group are Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
Manchin has been a prominent legislator in the debate on reducing gun violence that arose in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., shootings in December that resulted in 28 dead. Manchin, along with a number of other lawmakers, have called for action to reduce gun violence. He has previously stressed, however, that his call for action did not necessarily mean a call for banning guns.
"Everything has to be talked about. But you know what? … I'm not supporting a ban on anything. I'm supporting a conversation on everything," Manchin said in December to a local West Virginia radio station.
While both Republicans and Democrats have signaled an openness to new legislation aimed at reducing gun violence, lawmakers seem more divided over an assault weapons ban. President Obama has called for an assault weapons ban while critics say that restriction would go too far. Last month Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) formally introduced legislation reinstating an assault weapons ban. The last ban expired in 2004.
On Sunday Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said he was "skeptical" of a new assault weapons ban.
"You can take exactly the same mechanics of a gun and change the stock from a wooden stock to a folding stock and put something on the barrel, and suddenly it meets the definition of an assault weapon," King said. "It doesn't shoot faster, further, anything else."