Manchin calls for ‘commonsense’ gun limits, resists filibuster reform
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Tuesday lamented the lack of Senate support for tougher gun laws following a mass shooting in Texas hours earlier but rejected the notion of eliminating the filibuster for the purpose of passing such a bill.
Manchin noted that he has three grandchildren similar in age to the victims at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where at least 14 kids and one teacher were shot and killed.
“It’s just absolutely horrific,” Manchin said. “You all know where I stand; I’ll do anything I can.”
Pressed on whether he would consider scrapping the filibuster to tighten the nation’s gun laws, he warned that it would lead to chaos in the Senate.
“The filibuster is the only thing that prevents us from total insanity. Total insanity,” he said.
The response is consistent coming from the West Virginia centrist, who along with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has resisted pressure from fellow Democrats to get rid of the filibuster in order to pass various pieces of President Biden’s legislative agenda.
Manchin and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) had championed legislation in 2013 to expand background checks prior to gun sales, a proposal that came in direct response to the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., several months earlier. The bill failed to win the 60 votes needed to overcome the GOP filibuster. Following the mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., on May 14, Manchin said he still supports his proposal with Toomey, but without 60 votes in the Senate, he questioned the practicality of bringing it to the floor for a vote. It would be better, he argued, to consider reform proposals that had the support to become law. He suggested a focus on mental health.
The push for mental health reforms as a strategy for combating gun violence has long been championed by Republicans, who are overwhelmingly opposed to virtually any new restrictions on firearm sales and ownership. And some liberals wasted no time Tuesday hammering the mental illness argument as a pale substitute for real remedies.
“Spare me the bullshit about mental illness. We don’t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) reportedly said after delivering a speech on the Senate floor.
On Tuesday, after the Uvalde shooting, Manchin suggested that reporters focus their attention on the opponents of gun reform, wondering aloud how anyone could vote against tougher laws after another elementary school shooting.
“You guys ought to be pushing the people that just won’t even budge on anything. I don’t know what it takes to move,” he said. “It makes no sense at all why we can’t do commonsense — commonsense — things and try to prevent some of this from happening. … [It’s] unbelievable how we’ve gotten to a society where someone could be this deranged and this sick.”
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