Manchin Gives Democrats a Reality Check on Radical Gun Control Legislation

Right on schedule, Democrat lawmakers have begun calling for new gun control legislation in the wake of several mass shootings, including a racially motivated massacre in Buffalo, New York, last weekend. But once again, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is standing in the way as the last moderate Democrat.

President Joe Biden visited Buffalo on Tuesday to meet with the families of ten people who were killed and three others who were wounded by a white supremacist shooter. During his visit, he gave a speech denouncing the attack as an act of “domestic terrorism,” condemning white supremacy, and renewing calls for a federal ban on so-called “assault weapons.”

“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,” the president said, referring to the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which included a 10-year ban on assault weapons.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also spoke in Buffalo on Tuesday, vowing that Democrats would “work towards finally ridding our streets of weapons of war.”

While the anti-Second Amendment Democrats like Biden and Schumer continued to push for their radical anti-gun legislation that would do absolutely nothing to solve the problem of gun crime, Manchin spoke out in favor of a bipartisan compromise.

Speaking with reporters shortly before Biden’s speech, Manchin gave a realistic assessment about gun control legislation in a Senate that is split 50-50, saying that the only bill that has a chance of passing is a bipartisan compromise on background checks that previously failed.

The bill in question, which is named for Manchin and his chief co-sponsor, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), would expand federal background check requirements to all advertised commercial sales, which would now include gun shows and over the internet.

“I support the Manchin-Toomey, I’ve always done that,” Manchin told reporters, according to reporting from The Hill. “The Manchin-Toomey is the one. I think if you can’t get that one, then why try to do something just for basically voting for the sake of voting?”

While Democrats in Congress want to push a vote on universal background check legislation that passed in the House last year, Manchin has previously asserted that the bill goes too far, as it would extend to private transactions, such as those between neighbors or family. The Manchin-Toomey bill exempted those transactions.

“The best piece of legislation that we’ve ever had, that most people agreed on, was the Manchin-Toomey. We didn’t infringe on anyone’s rights privately,” the moderate Democrat said.

Of course, even if the Manchin-Toomey was the legislation “that most people agreed on,” that doesn’t mean much. The bill failed in 2013, receiving only 54 votes — six votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster. At the time, Democrats had a stronger majority, and only two Republicans crossed the aisle to vote in favor: Toomey and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).

It is far more unlikely that ten Republicans would join with the Democrats to vote in favor of any kind of gun control legislation this year, especially so close to the midterm elections in November.