NEW YORK, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., a prominent pro-gun-rights advocate, called for a bipartisan conversation on reforming gun laws.
Speaking Monday morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" television program in the aftermath of the shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Manchin, who has an "A" rating from the Nation Rifle Association, said, "Anyone saying they don't want to talk and sit down and have that type of conversation is wrong," adding, "Millions and millions of people are proud gun owners, and they do it responsibly. Seeing the massacre of so many innocent children, it's changed. It's changed America. We've never seen this happen."
In his comments Monday Manchin was careful to note the dialogue would have to reassure NRA members and others their right to bear arms was not in jeopardy, and said he would approach the organization to discuss the issue soon, The New York Times reported.
Manchin, who pointed out his NRA membership, emphasized it was necessary to involve the NRA in the discussions, saying, "You have to have everybody at the table, not just the people you think will support this."
Joe Scarborough, the host of the program and a pro-gun-rights former Florida Congressman, said recent mass shooting incidents are "being spawned by the toxic view of a violent popular culture, a growing mental health crisis and the proliferation of combat-style weapons."