Manchin to public: Read gun bill

PARKERSBURG – A West Virginia senator who brokered a compromise on a bill requiring background checks on gun sales encouraged everyone Thursday to read the legislation.

The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act does nothing that opponents, including the National Rifle Association claimed, such as create a registry of guns, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said on Thursday. To know that and still spread the inaccuracies “is just wrong,” Manchin said.

The compromise was organized by Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. After much hope it had the best chance to pass, the bill failed Wednesday in the Senate 54-46, short of the 60 votes needed to advance.

The legislation will return, although when was not available, said Manchin, attributing that to statements from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday.

“This bill will come back,” Manchin told reporters in West Virginia in a telephone press conference.

The national discussion on gun control rekindled after the Newtown, Conn., mass shootings where 20 kids at the Sandy Hook Elementary School were among the 26 people killed.

Existing law requires checks when guns are purchased from firearms dealers with a federal license. The proposal required background checks for sales at gun shows and over the internet, but excluded family transactions, to prevent criminals and those with a mental illness from buying guns.

“Most people say they thought it was already being done,” Manchin said.

The legislation would have created a national commission on violence and violence from video sources and makes it illegal to create a registry of gun ownership, Manchin said.

The NRA on Wednesday issued a statement after the bill’s defeat, saying it “would have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors and some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution.”

None of that is in the bill, Manchin said.

The bill is 49 pages long and is available to read on his website, http://www.manchin.senate. It won’t take long to read, Manchin said.

“The facts really do set you free,” he said.