President Barack Obama's Wednesday announcement of his administration's new, tougher gun control agenda has some members of West Virginia's congressional delegation up in arms.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, criticized the president for using executive orders to initiate some areas of his plan instead of bringing the proposals before Congress.
Rep. Nick Rahall, a Democrat, proclaimed "the problem is bigger, broader than guns." Rep. David McKinley, a Republican, said banning guns would not prevent individuals bent on committing violent crimes from obtaining guns.
Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, said in a statement he was disappointed the president did not create a national commission on mass violence, as Manchin previously had proposed.
Meanwhile, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, also a Democrat, said he supported the president's move to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as long as gun owners' rights are protected.
Obama held a noontime press conference Wednesday to discuss his proposals, inspired in part by last month's shooting in Newtown, Conn. His agenda includes an assault weapon and high-capacity magazines ban, as well as more stringent background checks.
At the end of the press conference, he signed a stack of executive orders, requiring federal agencies to make more information available for background checks and the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence and appointing a director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Executive orders do not have to be approved by Congress.
Capito took issue, saying the executive orders were a way to "circumvent Congress on gun control."
"I am disappointed that President Obama issued an executive order today instead of showing willingness to work with Congress and State Leaders to address this serious issue," she wrote in a statement. "The President has displayed a worrisome willingness to use the White House to advance ideological agendas."
Capito said she would consider ideas to address violence, however, including gun laws, mental illness services and the amount of violence in the media.
"West Virginians want us to work together to find common ground solutions to reduce gun violence in the United States - a goal we all share," she wrote.
Rahall seems to support most of Obama's ideas to curb gun violence, although he may stop short of voting for a gun or magazine ban.
In a statement, Rahall suggested lawmakers should focus on prosecuting criminals to the fullest extent of the law and doing a better job of identifying people with mental illnesses and criminal backgrounds who threaten the safety of others.
Rahall also said he supported efforts to make mental health services available to young adults, give schools more money to hire resource officers and strengthen the background check system, solutions already publicly supported by the president.
The congressman pointed out that Congress is not required to accept any of Obama's legislative proposals, however.
"I expect and will push for a full debate, so that West Virginians have every opportunity to understand the proposals before the Congress and to make their views known," he wrote.
Rahall's statement does not specifically address the president's proposal for an assault weapon and high-capacity magazine ban. Rahall spokeswoman Diane Luensmann said the congressman "is an unabashed defender of the Constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners and will review the President's proposals with those convictions firmly in mind."
Manchin said he still needs to gather information about assault weapons and high-capacity magazines before forming an opinion about Obama's proposed legislation.