West Virginia Democrat Uses Heidi Heitkamp Approach For Talking Gun Control

Heidi Heitkamp

Senator Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who once shot a copy of a cap and trade bill with a rifle in a campaign ad, has been going back and forth on gun rights issues since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting shoved the issue into the national limelight. First he was pro-gun control, then against it, and now he’s back to being pro-gun control again:

“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.

What’s interesting to me is that this seems to be the exact same path North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp took on gun control. She got a lot of media attention, and praise from the right, for calling President Obama’s not-yet-proposed gun control measures “extreme.” Yet, when an anti-gun group targeted her with some negative advertising run both here in North Dakota and in some DC media outlets, Heitkamp retreated to Manchin’s “everything is on the table” position.

“Senator Heitkamp believes the discussion and ultimate solution to these mass violence tragedies must go beyond a singular focus on gun laws, and that the discussion must examine mental health, school security, and community development to help parents identify and address children potentially suffering from mental illness,” Heitkamp’s office said in a release responding to the attack ads. “Senator Heitkamp has clearly stated that all options must be on the table when it comes to addressing gun violence in America.”

It’s almost like these supposedly “moderate” Democrats get some sort of a manual or guide instructing them on how to dissemble when confronted with inconvenient issues.

But such is the plight of liberal politicians tasked with representing right-of-center constituencies. They are forced to walk a tight rope between the more conservative views of voters and their personal left-wing views.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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