Instead, this panel would have teeth - more like the 9/11 Commission.
I am not the first to suggest this approach. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have advocated a similar effort for years.
Such a commission could go well beyond the work of the president's task force and provide a fuller understanding of the root causes of senseless acts of violence.
That's because finding a comprehensive solution will take effort - the effort to talk with experts from a variety of fields, including mental health and entertainment; to craft recommendations that seek to avert unintended consequences; and to build a consensus to move forward on a matter that has divided our country for far too long.
Putting forth this effort doesn't mean it would take forever - but it certainly means it would take more than a few weeks.
We cannot have this conversation without gun owners and groups like the NRA. Sportsmen, hunters and gun owners must have a seat at the table.
They've been vilified for so much of the mass violence in America, and that's just wrong. They're hurting about Newtown as much as the rest of us.
If you blame the NRA for what happened there, you're blaming 4 million law-abiding Americans who tuck their children into bed every night and who teach them to respect firearms and use them safely.
And if you blame them, you're also blaming me, because I'm one of those 4 million NRA members.
Responsible gun owners should be at the forefront of any effort to find a balance between rights and responsibilities to make America safer for our children.
We understand better than most that guns made this country free and are an important part of our culture and heritage.
I make this solemn pledge to friends who are proud, law-abiding members of the NRA: I will defend the Second Amendment with every fiber of my being.
And I pledge to friends in the media and entertainment industry: I will defend the First Amendment just as vigorously.
I'm never going to give up my guns. That will not happen. I support a sensible, comprehensive process that leads to reasonable solutions regarding mass violence.
I will weigh the evidence for any proposals put before me, including ways to address high-capacity magazines and military-style assault weapons, to improve mental health treatment, and to transform a culture that glorifies violence.
We cannot take a single-issue approach. The causes of mass violence run deeper than that. Any solution that doesn't take all concerned parties into account will lack the credibility it needs to become a reality.
But we should all be looking for a comprehensive fix. We owe that to Newtown.
This is the way we responded to challenges in West Virginia when I was governor. After tragic mine disasters, we called a time out, huddled up and created a plan to protect our miners.
We didn't quit mining; we made the mines safer.
That's similar to what this country did after Sept. 11, 2001: We didn't quit flying; we made flying safer.
For the sake of our children, we need to call a time out from politics as usual so guilt by association doesn't become guilt by conversation. No one should be branded a traitor for being willing to talk with others who see the world differently.
The Newtown tragedy has changed our nation forever. So must our thinking be changed.
We must act in such a way that those beautiful children and courageous adults who tried to save them from unspeakable horror shall not have died in vain.
Manchin is the junior U.S. senator from West Virginia. A Democrat, he served as governor of West Virginia from 2005 to 2010. This column first appeared in The Washington Post.