HED: Manchin’s risky move makes sense to us
In the wake of unspeakable tragedy that occurred at Newtown, Connecticut, last week, many questions are raised, some of which will never be answered.
How we as a country deal with mental illness, how we can keep our children safe, the line between the media’s duty to keep the public informed and invading the privacy of victims - we have an opportunity, a duty, to discuss things that are often avoided because they are difficult.
Of course, the issue that is front and center of almost every conversation about the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School is gun control. Our Constitution guarantees the right to own guns, yet our citizens, especially our children, also have the right to remain safe.
It is a delicate balance, our leaders seem unsure how best to approach what has traditionally been one of the stickiest of subjects. So, in the wake of the shootings, many legislators chose to remain silent. Especially those who have been supported by the National Rifle Association.
The Monday morning after the mass shooting in Connecticut, the political program “Morning Joe” spoke almost exclusively about Sandy Hook, each person shared their own personal reactions, each gave their opinions on the subject of gun control, even if that opinion was simply, “I don’t know.”
Joe Scarborough, the host of the show and a former Representative from Florida, a staunch pro-gun state, said the show was having a hard time getting any legislator or NRA member to be on the program. It seemed those who support gun ownership were afraid to admit that fact.
However, one legislator did appear and we’re glad he did. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin did what West Virginians do, admitted there is a problem instead of ignoring the elephant in the room. He began what will hopefully become a productive debate of how to stay true to our Founding Fathers’ vision and yet keep our citizens safe from gun violence.
“Being afraid, because of political fallout, to say, ‘does this makes sense? is this the culture we should have in America?”… ” Manchin said. “I’m going to speak to all my colleagues, I’m going to reach out to all my friends at the NRA and say, ‘how can we take the dialogue to a different level?’”
We applaud Sen. Manchin for having the courage to be the first NRA-backed legislator to step forward and begin this conversation, regardless of the potential of damage to his political career. Whether one is a strong advocate of gun control or feels citizens should have to the right to bear arms at any level, it makes us proud that our Senator was the first willing to face criticism from both sides in order to do the right thing.