Just days before Vice President Joe Biden is set to make recommendations to the president on how to curb gun violence, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told me on “This Week” the United States needs an “all-in approach” to solve the problem.
“We have to change the culture of mass violence we have,” Manchin told me today on “This Week.” ”If you think it’s only about guns, and that would change the culture, you are wrong. If you think it’s a only about the lack of mental illness coverage that we give, and you’d be wrong there. ”
“I’m saying that basically, you have to have an all-in approach,” he said.
Manchin is an avid sportsman and a leading Democratic supporter of the National Rifle Association.
“Right now, I don’t know if you have the professionals from the standpoint sitting down people like myself, who have been using guns all of our lives, people that are in the health care arena that are professionals with mental illness and the lack of care for mental illness, then also the video, the media,” Manchin said. “I would tell all of my friends in NRA: I will work extremely hard, and I will guarantee you there will not be an encroachment on your Second Amendment rights.”
The NRA was critical of the White House this week, following meetings with Biden and gun ownership groups. President Obama appointed Biden to lead a task force looking at gun violence in the United States in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., shooting that left 20 children dead.
“We think what they’re talking about are basically feel-good measures that allow them to say, ‘Look, we’ve done this,’” NRA President David Keene told ABC News. “None of these things are going to prevent the next school shooting.”
Biden is expected to make his gun policy recommendations to the president in the coming days.
Manchin was joined on “This Week” by Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor and Republican presidential contender. The two are new honorary co-chairs of “No Labels,” a national movement to promote bipartisanship and problem-solving.
“It’s not about ideology, it’s about extreme partisanship,” Huntsman said, of the current political climate in Washington. “You can’t do anything about problem solving unless you get a group of people together on Capitol Hill who are dedicated to putting country first and making decisions that are right for the future, as opposed to the next election.”
I asked him if he thinks members of his party will be receptive to this message.
“We have politics of right- and left-of-center, but we’ve forgotten the most important thing for the American people, and that’s the politics of problem solving,” Huntsman said.
“Joe [Manchin] and I were just talking about this. I mean, we’ve been shooting since we were 5 or 6 years old,” he added. “We come from cultures of guns, Utah and West Virginia. And within five minutes, we put together some — some ideas that probably would represent a good compromise package between Republicans and Democrats.”
Manchin said he’s teaming up with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on a bill that would pull together a commission of experts to work on a “commonsense” solution to mass violence.
I asked him if universal background checks would be part of this conversation, too.
“All of these things need to be looked at. But if it’s all in one piece of legislation, and one piece of legislation only, then you get something that’s much broader,” Manchin said. ”If you just pinpoint, George, on one — and say it’s guns, whether it’s the magazines, or whatever — you’re going to have a harder time getting through the political process we have right today.”