WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- West Virginia’s senate candidates take aim at a key battleground seat. This is the first piece in a week-long look at the issues behind the race, starting with guns and the second amendment.
Both incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and his challenger Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R-WV), paint themselves as pro-gun but the two take different approaches to balancing personal rights and public safety.
In his re-election race, Manchin – a gun-owner and hunter himself – isn’t running away from his controversial 2013 gun control proposal. Manchin and a Pennsylvania republican wrote the bill after nearly 30 people died in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting.
“We’re not going to take your guns away, I’m going to protect your second amendment rights, as much if not more than anybody else,” Manchin said, “I’m also going to protect your children.”
Manchin argues the government should put together a registry, not of gun owners – but those prohibited from owning a firearm. Now, as he did in 2013, Manchin calls for stronger mental health programs, better school security, and more, but not universal background checks.
“Any commercial transaction needs to have a background check,” he said, “80, 90 percent of gun owners in West Virginia approve of that.” He noted that sales and gifts made between friends and family could be responsibly handled without a background check under his proposal.
“I think this is another dramatic area of difference between myself and Joe Manchin,” said Patrick Morrisey when asked about the bill known as Manchin-Toomey.
Morrisey called the idea radical. In our interview, he neither supported any new restrictions on firearms nor did he propose new privileges.
“I’m not in the camp of those who believe that all these gun control measures will reduce crime and violence,” Morrisey said, “in fact, I think just the opposite.” “Enforce the current laws that are on the books, number one,” he continued, “number two, let’s not overstep.”
If you would like to know more about where the candidates stand on guns and the second amendment, you can find our interviews in the video player above. Other stories from our series examining the candidates’ positions on health care, drug addiction, West Virginia's energy future, and working with the president can be found in the related stories tab.