Joe Manchin: Say... about that gun grabbing thing...

I actually owe Jim Geraghty and his indispensable Morning Jolt newsletter a big hat tip for this story, though we wrote about the roots of it multiple times here. In any event, astute readers will recall the response of long time Democratic Second Amendment supporter Joe Manchin in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.

“I just came with my family from deer hunting,” Manchin said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I’ve never had more than three shells in a clip. Sometimes you don’t get more than one shot anyway at a deer. It’s common sense. It’s time to move beyond rhetoric. We need to sit down and have a common-sense discussion and move in a reasonable way.”

Well, a bit of time has gone by, allowing cooler heads a chance to prevail and some of Senator Manchin’s constituents a chance to weigh in. Some of the swamp fever may be breaking down in West Virginia, as this more recent interview suggests.

“I’m not afraid to have these conversations and I know I’m going to get criticized,” Senator Manchin said on Wednesday’s MetroNews Talkline. He was a guest on the show for the second time this week to talk about his position on firearm regulatory changes and what should be done after the Newtown.

“I am open to talking about how do we have a better society with less violence and not blame just the gun owner, because if you blame the gun owner, you’re blaming me,” the Senator said.

Host Hoppy Kercheval asked Senator Manchin if he will support California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s proposed bill to reinstate the ban on assault weapons. That ban first took effect in 1994 and expired in 2004.

“I’m not supporting a ban on anything. I’m supporting a conversation on everything,” Senator Manchin said.

Nobody is supporting a ban on conversation, Senator. We were just a tad bit alarmed at the direction yours seemed to be taking. But it’s good to see you’ve had some time to reconsider. One of the things you might be taking into account is the fact that even an incident as horrible as the Newtown maniac’s rampage hasn’t shifted the national mood very much. We already know that American’s don’t want the government snacking on their hand guns, but let’s take a look at the most hot button buzz word in the gun grabbing dictionary. Pollsters – including some sponsors who seem to really want to push this, like USA Today – keep asking the following question about those really nasty “assault rifles.”

Are you for or against a law which would make it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess semiautomatic guns known as assault rifles?

The skewing of the question doesn’t get much better than this for the gun grabbing lobby. And yet, one year before Newtown, Americans opposed the proposition by a 53 to 43 margin. A few weeks ago – three days before Christmas, in fact – the same question was put to the nation with exactly the same wording. How much did it change?

Still opposed… 51 to 44. It’s a net shift which is less than the margin of error. And as the public gets to hear more and more about the true intentions of people like Governor Andrew “Confiscation might be an option” Cuomo, the panic driven rush toward the doors on the Second Amendment seems to continue to slow down. Senators like Manchin obviously follow the news, though I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and allow that he’s simply overcoming the shock and returning to his senses.

This is not to say that we should become lax on this and lower our guard. The Democrats will still be introducing new legislation to restrict your most fundamental rights as soon as the new Congress has figured out where the bathrooms are. But I’m beginning to allow myself a sliver of hope that folks are slowly coming back to their senses and won’t allow this to be a stampede. We’ll need to stay on top of our House members though, and remind them that they are up for election every two years.

And we’re still watching.