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Manchin blasts NRA and says gun bill will come back

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Joe Manchin vowed Thursday that his compromise gun control legislation would come back up again in the U.S. Senate, and he blasted the National Rifle Association for spreading lies about the proposal.

"That bill will come back," Manchin, D-W.Va., told reporters during a Thursday afternoon conference call.

"The bill is solid, it makes sense, it's easy to understand and there's some people and organizations, like NRA, that are trying to confuse it," he said.

Manchin's highly touted bipartisan compromise with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to expand and strengthen gun background checks and create a National Commission on Mass Violence failed in the Senate on a 56-44 vote Wednesday afternoon.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, initially voted for the measure but changed his vote prior to the close of voting. The move allows Reid to bring the measure up for reconsideration at a later date.

While Reid said publicly Thursday that he would "take a pause" on the measure, Manchin said Reid assured the Democratic caucus he would bring it back to the floor soon.

"This is one of those bills that will not go away because it makes so much sense," Manchin said.

The measure expands the country's existing background check system to cover commercial sales at gun shows and over the Internet. Currently, only federally licensed dealers are required to perform such checks.

It also encourages states to put all available records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

"You can ask 10 people in the United States of America, and eight or nine of them will say, 'I'm OK with that,' " Manchin said. "And you know what most of them say? 'I thought we were already doing that.' "

The NRA, however, has claimed Manchin's proposal will prevent people from selling their guns to family or friends. Manchin called that a "bold-faced lie."

"They know that is wrong; why they're saying it, I do not know," he said. "If you read the bill, anyone who reads can tell they aren't telling the truth."

Gun groups also have claimed the bill would set up a national gun registry. In fact, Manchin's proposal expressly prohibits that.

"How anybody that has read that bill that would think that would allow or entice the government to begin a registry is misleading and lying," Manchin said.

"Either they can't read, — and that's not accurate — they intentionally misrepresented and wanted to scare people, or they truly believed it for some reason," Manchin said. "But there's no facts to put that out there."

Manchin also shot back against GOP claims that he fully supports all of President Barack Obama's proposals relating to gun control.

"This is not President Obama's bill," he said.  "I'm sure it's not the bill he prefers or likes. This is not a (Sen.) Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) or left-wing bill. . . this was truly a bill that was crafted right down the middle."

Manchin said many more colleagues in the Senate approved of the ideas in the bill but were afraid of the spin that was being put out by the NRA and the association's promise to score the bill as part of its regular gun-rights ratings.

He said if more members of the Senate talked to their constituents, they would get more support.

"You've got to sell it," he said. "Go back home, get your gun groups, all your people you respect, and sit down with them and explain the bill."

He also said if the NRA wanted to continue to "intimidate and scare" people, then they needed to get their facts straight.

"I'd rather them just say they don't like the bill, they don't like government and I'm against that," Manchin said. "That's fine, I respect that.

"What I don't respect is when you say the bill I've worked on with mostly people across the aisle does something that it doesn't," he said.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at or 304-348-4836.


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