SEABROOK, N.H. —
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin wants a free and open dialogue on America’s culture of violence, focusing not only on firearms, but mental illness, violent video games and Hollywood’s obsession with blood and gore.
But he stopped short of calling for a ban on the sale of assault rifles, like the one used at an elementary school in Connecticut where 20 children and six adults were gunned down.
Originally, it had been reported that Manchin endorsed a ban. “Oh, no, that’s awful,” he said of the report.
Instead, Manchin said he agrees with Sen. Joseph Liebermann, I-Conn., in seeking a blue-ribbon panel to discuss all facets of violence, with all interested parties at the table.
“I’m not supporting a thing except open dialogue,” he said.
A longtime hunter and member of the National Rifle Association with an “A” political rating, the West Virginia Democrat cautioned against those that would seek to ostracize the nation’s largest gun lobby.
“There are people waiting to pounce on them,” he said. “There are people waiting to villainize them. That is the wrong approach.”
He said the slayings at Sandy Hook Elementary School were difficult to comprehend. “It’s hard for me to get my thoughts around any of this, this type of crime against babies and children. I just can’t fathom that," he said.
Manchin said a panel should look into violence portrayed in movies and video games and its corsening affect on society. Schools that don’t already have armed guards posted in their buildings might need to do so, he said.
Details for this story were provided by The Register-Herald in Beckley, W.Va.