Even Joe Manchin is Talking About Gun Control Now

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 17 2012 9:15 AM

Even Joe Manchin is Talking About Gun Control Now

Throughout 2010, Gov. Joe Manchin was the heavy favorite to win West Virginia's open U.S. Senate seat. His opponent, John Raese, was a charmless, wealthy Republican who'd run and lost three previous races for the same job. Democrats panicked when Raese started riding the Tea Party wave and tying Manchin in the polls. This was part of Manchin's response: An ad in which he literally put a bullet through the cap and trade bill.

The NRA endorsed Manchin (before this ad, actually), and he won. The NRA endorsed him again in 2012; he won again, carrying all but two counties as his president lost every county in the state. I supply all this background just to prove how shocking it was when Manchin went on "Morning Joe" today and said optimistic things about a possible gun control bill.

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"I just came with my family from deer hunting," he said. "I've never had more than three shells in a clip. Sometimes you don't get more than one shot anyway. It's time to get beyond rhetoric, it's time to sit down and move in a responsible way... it should move beyond dialogue, we need action... When Chuck Schumer says we don't need more than 10 rounds in a clip, [critics] would be wrong to say that shouldn't be on the table. Everything should be on the table."

Manchin didn't know what Sen. Dianne Feinstein had in mind when she talked about a new "assault weapons ban." But the Democrat who just won an increasingly red state, one that the NRA claims it took away from Al Gore in 2000, went out of his way to call Feinstein a "beautiful person." No Republican House member is as safe as Manchin -- he doesn't have another election until 2018 -- but how many of them are going to talk this way?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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