Manchin on gun control: 'Everything's on the table.'

This guy’s playing with fire, right? Republicans, somewhat counter-intuitively, still struggle in West Virginia statewide elections. But that’s partly because West Virginia Democrats are very good at looking and sounding like Republicans on things like gun policy, religion, and many of the other things important to us “bitter clingers” of the world.

Sen. Joe Manchin, who once shot a copy of the cap-and-trade bill through with a rifle in a campaign ad to prove his down-home bona fides, is apparently looking to change that. In the month since Newtown, Manchin has been pro-gun control, then back to pro-gun, then at a No Labels event, presumably because his opportunistic flip-flopping defies ideological classification.

On Andrea Tantaros’ radio show Monday, he was back to more aggressive talk on gun control:

“Do you think there should be more gun control laws?” Tantaros asked Manchin directly.

Manchin responded, “I believe that you have to have an approach, to where everything is on the table. Now, when you say ‘gun control,’ I just don’t think it’s a one-issue problem. That’s why people keep talking about that, and people keep wanting to say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ ‘are you for this or against it?’ We’re in an environment in Washington where your guilty by conversation.”

Manchin continued, hinting that he would favor a renewing of the “assault weapons” ban: “I don’t have a so-called assault weapon. I’m a proud gun owner. I have many guns, I don’t have that type of a gun.” Manchin acknowledged that he used one of his bolt action rifles to shoot the cap and trade bill in one of his campaign ads.

Well, as long as Sen. Manchin doesn’t have an “assault weapon” why not just ban them? Because “things the junior senator from West Virginia owns” is the historical guideline our Founders used to determine what products a free people would retain access to. Manchin was the governor of the state of West Virginia, but his home state thankfully escaped his reign without major gun control. The state earns an admirable 4 of a possible 100 points from the Brady Campaign on the gun control scale. I guess Manchin’s conscience couldn’t operate fully on the issue of guns until after he’d used the NRA’s endorsement to get elected, found a national tragedy to demagogue, and found out the Beltway had his back.

Manchin will no doubt claim when he says “everything’s on the table,” he just means up for discussion. But his own comments reveal that’s not the case. Manchin’s got banning on the brain.

“Would you ban any weapons, Senator?” Tantaros asked. The senator refused to directly answer.

“I can’t say what I would ban or what I wouldn’t ban,” he replied. “But I’m willing to talk about anything that’s out there. If it’s a military-style type thing that was for military use, should it be talked about? I think I want to hear from those people that believe they need those weapons. Am I going to vote to ban? I can’t say until I see a piece of legislation.”

What I hear is the most famously flagrant recent purveyor of campaign gun porn is now willing to talk about the banning of anything out there. Does he think that speaks to West Virginia voters?

Seriously, this is how he got elected: