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Senate’s Manchin Seeks Commission to Probe U.S. Gun Violence

Jan. 13 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said he would join Arizona Republican Senator John McCain in seeking a bipartisan commission that would look for ways to address the nation’s “culture of violence.”

“It takes an all-in approach,” Manchin said today on ABC’s “This Week” in response to a question about what should be done to address gun violence in the wake of the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. “You bring experts from all different fields. You bring people such as myself that are NRA members that have been sportsmen all of our lives, and look for a commonsense approach.”

White House officials have said the Obama administration, under the leadership of Vice President Joe Biden, will pursue a ban on military-style weapons that is opposed by the National Rifle Association and their lawmaker allies. Manchin said he and McCain will sponsor a bill taking up retired Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman’s push for a commission because looking more narrowly at guns, mental-health coverage or violent video games won’t “change the culture.”

Manchin, who opposes steps he views as curbing Americans’ constitutional right to bear arms, said requirements such as universal background checks for gun buyers have to be looked at within the all-inclusive approach he is advocating.

“If it’s all in one piece of legislation and one piece of legislation only, then you get something that’s much broader,” he said. Otherwise, it “is going to have a harder time getting through the political process we have right today.”

McCain Support

McCain, in an interview on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” backed Manchin’s view, saying an assault weapons ban can’t pass Congress and wouldn’t stop gun violence if it did.

“In Norway, a country with the most stringent gun laws, a guy was able to slaughter a huge number of people,” McCain said, referring to twin attacks in that country that left 77 people dead in 2011. “So I think we need to look at it in its entirety. I think all of us should have this conversation.”

President Barack Obama has said he will address firearms violence in his State of the Union address, set for Feb. 12. Biden plans to deliver by Jan. 15 his recommendations for legislative and executive actions to stem gun violence.

NRA President David Keene appeared today on CNN’s “State of the Union” program, reiterating his group’s view that the White House push for an assault weapons ban won’t succeed.

“The likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get an assault weapons ban through this Congress,” Keene said, adding that lawmakers also won’t be able to pass restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines.

After a Jan. 10 meeting with Biden, the NRA released a statement accusing the White House of pushing “an agenda to attack the Second Amendment” rather than focusing on policies to improve safety for children.

“We suspected all he wanted to be able to do was to say he had talked to us,” Keene said of Biden on the CNN program. “And now they were going to go forward to do what they wanted to do.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Shobhana Chandra in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at

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