Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 18, 2013

Region’s lawmakers have mixed opinions on Obama’s gun control measure

By Charles Owens
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — The region’s congressional delegation in Washington is expressing mixed opinions about President Barack Obama’s sweeping plan for curbing gun violence, and his decision to invoke presidential powers to enact 23 measures without congressional approval.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he plans to consider each of Obama’s recommendations carefully.

“However, I am disappointed that the president did not recommend the creation of the national commission on mass violence that I have proposed,” Manchin said. “A national commission can build the consensus we need for real action backed not only by gun control advocates, mental health experts and entertainment industry executives but also by law-abiding gun owners who fully understand the history and heritage of firearms in America. Violence destroys the dignity, hopes and lives of millions of Americans, and we have a unique opportunity to stop this epidemic — but only if we can put politics aside and have an honest and effective conversation about what to do about our culture of mass violence.”

U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., said it is critical for the Obama administration’s policies to not violate the Constitution.

“The Second Amendment is one of many issues important to residents of Virginia’s Ninth District and to people across the country,” Griffith said. “I will give due consideration to any legislative proposals that may come before the House of Representatives while keeping in mind the hundreds of existing firearms laws in this country and the Second Amendment to the Constitution.”

Griffith said he plans to work with his colleagues in Congress and other advocates of the Second Amendment to ensure that the new policies do not violate the Constitution.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said Obama’s plan will better protect innocent Americans from gun violence.

“Throughout my career, I’ve fought to reduce gun violence — including supporting the original ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines and eliminating loopholes in background checks for firearms purchases, as well as efforts to require child safety locks with every handgun purchase and prohibit domestic violence abusers from purchasing firearms,” Rockefeller said. “Today, I support steps that build on these ideas, while making sure our hunters’ and sportsmen’s rights are protected. The president’s plan also moves us toward increased access to mental health services. Medicaid pays for the bulk of mental health services, and we need to clarify that Medicaid plans must comply with mental health parity requirements while improving mental health services across the country. I think everyone can agree that the impact of violent content on our kids’ well being is an important issue, and I’m glad this new plan will take a close look at it.”

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., also is welcoming Obama’s gun control plan.

“I applaud President Obama and Vice President Biden for putting forward a well-considered and comprehensive package of proposals to curb gun violence,” Kaine said. “Thanks to their prompt efforts, we now have concrete ideas on the table for debate. I’ve long advocated universal background checks, including closing the gun show loophole, to ensure weapons do not fall into the hands of dangerous individuals. I am encouraged by proposals to increase security in our schools, including preparing and training school officials for emergency situations. I strongly support improvements to our mental health system. In the coming weeks I look forward to reviewing the details of proposed limits on killer magazines and combat weapons and believe we should adopt reasonable restrictions. The Senate must take action on this issue and I look forward to working together to achieve common sense reform that will keep our children and communities safer while preserving the Second Amendment.”