Sen. Manchin on guns: Raise age to 21 for purchases, no need for AR-15s

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Monday voiced his support for raising the age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles to 21.

Manchin, a centrist Democrat from the largely Republican state of West Virginia, insisted he is not against gun ownership but did not believe that AR-15-style firearms were necessary for civilians to own.

“I never thought I had a need for that type of a high-capacity automatic weapon,” Manchin told CNN on Monday. “I like to shoot, I like to go out and hunt. I like to go out sports shooting. I do all of that. But I’ve never felt I needed something of that magnitude.”

Manchin also said he “wouldn’t have a problem on looking at” backing a ban on so-called assault weapons. “It depends on what they, how they would approach it,” Manchin said. “I’m open to anything that makes gun sense.”

Manchin, as part of a small bipartisan group of senators, led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), is working for a compromise on gun reforms. The bipartisan group is examining red flags laws, increasing funding for school security and mental health.

In the Monday interview, Manchin argued that requiring individuals to be 21 to buy high-powered rifles and imposing minimum state standards to create red flag laws could have prevented some of the recent mass shootings.

“Every time we’ve tried to do something after horrific, horrific tragedy such as this, people said, ‘Well, that wouldn’t have prevented that, that wouldn’t have prevented that,'” Manchin said. “Well, we know we can do something that would have prevented this: raising the age. Making sure that the age at least gives us a chance to work with that person, see, evaluate and, and have a little maturity to them. And the second thing is that we know that the red flag laws do work, as long as there’s due process.”

Manchin, who is the co-author of a stalled bill to expand background checks on all gun show and Internet sales, indicated he was still pushing to try to include his proposal in any final deal. He pushed back on calls to narrow the proposal so checks wouldn’t be required on Internet sales. “Oh, internet sales has to be taken care of,” Manchin said.

As Democrats try to see if a deal can be reached this week, Manchin said talks should continue into next week if the senators are close to a deal. “I think if we’re close to getting an agreement, yeah, I’m not gonna push something that’s gonna blow the thing up,” Manchin said.



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