West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is once again becoming an obstacle in the renewed Democrat push for “ambitious” gun control in the wake of the mass shooting in Buffalo over the weekend, according to The Hill, which is reporting the centrist Democrat “is emerging as a problem.”
Manchin is holding steadfast to his compromise legislation, negotiated with outgoing Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. The Manchin-Toomey bill would expand background checks for commercial sales, including at gun shows.
But Joe Biden, during his remarks in Buffalo, alluded to a ban on so-called “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines, an idea popular among Manchin’s left-tilting Democrat colleagues. However, with a 50-50 split in the Senate, such a ban is unlikely to pass, especially in an election year with a potentially disastrous midterm election looming in November.
As noted by TIME, “For much of his career, Biden has tried—and largely failed—to restrict access to the types of weapons” he wants banned. And with his off-the-cuff acknowledgement last year during a CNN “Townhall” broadcast that he would also like to ban 9mm semi-auto pistols (his remark was captured on video and became the centerpiece of a Second Amendment Foundation advertisement), there is plenty of resistance to the Biden gun control agenda.
The Hill is reporting Manchin believes his old legislation “is the only reform that has a chance of passing the 50-50 Senate, undercutting Democrats’ hopes of passing broader legislation.”
Grassroots gun rights activists do not consider more gun control to be “reform” of any kind. Rather, any new legislation translates to more restrictions.
When Biden declared in Buffalo “There are certain things we can do. We can keep assault weapons off our streets. We’ve done it before. I did it when I passed the crime bill,” he opened more speculation about what could happen—or not happen—on Capitol Hill between now and November.
Writing at the Washington Post, columnist Henry Olsen stated, “It’s long past time for political leaders at all levels of government to work to reverse the spiraling trend (of gun-related violence). The National Rifle Association and other Second Amendment advocates should lead the way.”
But his 758-word opinion piece only appears to suggest more concessions, including “applying background checks to sales at private gun shows.” None of the recent mass shooters bought their firearms at gun shows, and when they acquired their guns at retail outlets, they passed background checks. The gun show “loophole” is therefore a bogus issue, say many activists.
The reality, gun rights advocates contend, is that Capitol Hill gun control proponents are really gun prohibitionists who are simply afraid to admit it because of the likely political backlash. As noted by The Hill, “Leading Senate Democratic advocates for gun control legislation…say Manchin-Toomey doesn’t go far enough.”
The report quotes anti-gun Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, chairman of Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution. When asked about Manchin-Toomey, he replied, “I’ve never signed on. It needs to be made stronger… I don’t know what Manchin-Toomey is at this point. It is a shapeshifting, kind of vague proposal without any specifics.”
Therein lies the problem. No matter what proposal is made, anti-gunners like Blumenthal invariably want something “stronger.” This typically translates to “universal background checks” for all firearms transfers, even between friends and family members, at which point, say many in the firearms community, the right to keep and bear arms becomes a government-regulated privilege.
Into this renewed debate about gun rights versus gun control stepped perennial anti-gun Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), currently Senate Majority Leader, promising “to work towards finally ridding our streets of weapons of war,” according to The Hill.
It does not matter to Schumer or other gun control proponents that modern semiautomatic sport/utility rifles are not “weapons of war,” rights activists contend. However, the establishment media doesn’t challenge the assertion.
As illustrated by the TIME article, “It’s been nearly 30 years since Congress has passed meaningful new limits on gun ownership,” the press seems comfortable with adding restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms.
But standing in the way of any gun control momentum is Manchin, whose current term runs through 2024.