WHEELING - Sen. Joe Manchin is among a group of senators pushing to expand background check requirements for all gun purchases, including firearms sold at gun shows.
Manchin, D-W.Va., also believes the only gun-related bills with a chance of passing Congress are those meant to keep guns out of the hands of convicted criminals and people found by a court to have mental issues.
"Let me just say this - nobody is going to take anybody's guns away. ... The only thing that I'm working on ... is should a person buying a gun have a criminal and mental background check to make sure they are capable of having a gun? That's it ... ," he said. "This paranoia, these scare tactics and those rumors - outright lies - to get people excited are wrong.
"No one is going to take your guns. No one is going to repeal the Second Amendment - only you can do that," he continued. "The only thing we're talking about is having a background check to see if you're criminal or if you are mentally insane so you shouldn't be able to have a gun."
Manchin and Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; Mark Kirk, R-Ill; and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., have been working together on legislation to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, but Coburn has yet to agree on a key provision that would require private sellers to retain records of their gun sales. Without Coburn's support, it is believed the bill would not be accepted by Senate Republicans.
"We would not be increasing (mandates for background checks), but enforcing the ones we have out there," he said. "There should be no loopholes. If you buy a gun at a gun show, there should be a background check - period - to see if you're a criminal or to see if you're mentally unstable or insane."
Manchin said he is aware of only one other bill in the Senate pertaining to gun ownership, and the measure addresses the issue of gun trafficking. He said some people go to other states specifically to buy guns and take them back to areas with laws banning or limiting gun ownership. Such traffickers often sell drugs to obtain the money to buy the guns, Manchin said.
This week, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation to increase federal penalties for those found guilty of gun trafficking.
Meanwhile, Manchin doesn't believe Congress will pass any legislation limiting the size of gun magazines - or any other bills infringing upon the rights of those legally permitted to own a gun. And he said decreasing gun violence might best be accomplished through education.
"We should have a commission on mass violence," he said. "We need to find out why our culture continues to get more violent, and why we accept the violence. We've got to change that. The young people are getting totally desensitized."