Sen. Manchin still NRA member despite lobby’s criticism

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin discussed a number of issues with the Associated Press during an interview about a possible governor bid that included guns.

“I’m still a proud member of the [National Rifle Association], because I think NRA was started for the right reason,” Manchin told the news service. “It was promoting gun safety and gun culture. It’s moved from that now to be big business.”

The NRA has been critical of the senator recently since he openly opposed a push for permit less concealed carry in his home state, which the current governor ultimately vetoed.

Before that the NRA had given Manchin, a Democrat, an A-rating, and for years they were buddy-buddy. But in the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting he teamed with a Republican senator to draft a bill to expand background checks to include online and private exchanges between strangers. But the measure failed to garner enough votes — just a handful of votes shy — to advance in April 2013.

“If they weren’t afraid, (the NRA) would go ahead and poll their members,” Manchin said of concealed carry permit and expanded background check policies.

Executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, Chris Cox, told the AP: “The NRA is more popular than Joe Manchin in West Virginia.”

He argued that Manchin “pushes the agenda of an anti-gun, anti-coal billionaire from New York City,” referring to the city’s former mayor, Michael Bloomberg.