In an interview published by The Atlantic, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) revealed the real reason why his bipartisan expanded background check bill, the one he co-authored with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), failed to gain the support it needed to clear the Senate. In so many words, it’s a trust issue.
According to Manchin’s assessment, gun owners do not trust the government. Moreover, they believe that a expanded background check bill “is the first step” in an elaborate agenda to disarm the American citizenry.
“When you say universal background check, the first thing that comes in the mind of a gun owner is that means registration, and registration means confiscation. ‘I haven’t broken the laws, why do you want to know everything?'” he said, explaining the questions he frequently fields from his constituents.
Indeed. The anxiety felt over the Manchin-Toomey amendment galvanized droves of gun owners to reach out to their respective senators, especially in key battleground states.
Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota, who shocked some of her peers by voting ‘no’ on the measure, spoke to the deluge of calls she received from concerned gun owners just prior to voting on the bill last month.
“I think I always had a reputation as somebody who will listen, somebody who is pretty independent-minded but also believes that at the end of the day, you got to listen to your constituents,” Heitkamp told POLITICO. “In this office, the calls literally were before the last day at least 7 to 1 against that bill. This was after a series of very extensive ad campaigns done in my state saying call me and tell me to support it.”
So, moving forward, Manchin recognized that he has to change the gun community’s perception of the bill, which will involve making “some adjustments,” as he told “CBS This Morning”.
“We need to educate law-abiding gun owners, like myself, people that might belong to the NRA … This bill not only protects your Second Amendment but expands the Second Amendment.”
“Some people [are] concerned it might infringe on any family transfers,” Manchin said, addressing objections some critics have had over personal property rights. “It doesn’t at all, but we’re going to clarify that language … Any time that you transfer to family whether it’s directly or online, it would not be subjected to a background check.”
Though, the essence of the bill would remain intact. That is, “If you’re going to a commercial [gun vendor], whether it be a gun show or online, it should subject to a background check.”
Manchin also faces tough opposition from the National Rifle Association, which has vowed to defeat any bill that “criminalizes private transfers.” In fact, over the weekend at the NRA Convention in Houston, Texas, newly-elected NRA president Jim Porter characterized the bill as an “all-out revenge on gun owners.”
“Revenge is what’s motivating the president’s unrelenting attacks on gun owners today,” Porter said.
From Manchin’s perspective, the NRA is merely “rattling the cage” in an attempt to confuse and scare gun owners about his bill.
“I’m frustrated with any organization that basically is saying things — and what they’re doing is they’re rattling the cage if you will, saying, well, if they do this they’re going to do this, it’s a first step,” said Manchin, who had an “A” rating from the nation’s gun lobby.
“People are concerned that [Congress] did this, now they’re going to do this, this and this. That’s not going to happen. This makes gun sense. Common sense, gun sense,” he added.
There have been rumblings in and around Washington that the Senate plans on reintroducing a revised version of the Manchin-Toomey expanded background check bill this summer. If that’s the case, Sen. Manchin has a rather short window to convince the gun community that his bill is actually good for gun owners and the Second Amendment.