Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), perhaps the most notable pro-gun lawmaker to call for new laws on firearms in the wake of last week's mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., expanded on his thoughts with an op/ed in the Washington Post on Friday. In the piece, Manchin rejected an "all-or-nothing approach" to reducing gun violence, and signaled that he is "open" to the call for armed guards in schools made by the National Rifle Association at a press conference on Friday morning:
No matter how strongly any one of us holds our positions, we all must be willing to respectfully hear each other out — elected leaders must hear recommendations from the mental health community; gun-control advocates must listen to gun rights supporters; the entertainment community must listen to those who want to see less violence on their screens. And vice versa.
If we let irrational fear and antagonism control the debate, then we will continue to be a nation of violence. We need leaders who can be open-minded. We can’t villainize those who disagree with us, and we can’t dismiss their legitimate concerns outright. We cannot pay lip service to those perspectives; they must be the driving force of change.
At the same time, as a proud gun owner and a lifetime member of the NRA, I will continue to urge the organization’s leadership to come to the table because I would like to see a more meaningful discussion — because every group with a role to play in this conversation should contribute. I’m open to a discussion about whether we need more security in our schools, as the NRA proposed in Friday’s news conference, but that can’t be the only measure that comes out of this. An all-or-nothing approach from any of these parties won’t result in the changes we need to keep our children safe.
Because if you think the problem of mass violence in our country is about just guns, you’re wrong. If you think it’s about just an entertainment industry that markets violence to kids, you’re wrong. If you it’s about just insufficient security at our schools, you’re wrong. If you think it’s about just the lack of mental health services for troubled young people and adults, you’re wrong. We need to address all of them. I, for one, simply cannot support any proposal that doesn’t address all aspects of this problem.