"They [Beretta] have every right to believe in what they want to believe. But West Virginians are not opposed to the Second Amendment. They are not opposed to the gun industry. And West Virginia's members of Congress are not opposed to those views."
In a response to Beretta last week, Manchin said, "I believe that my legislation, which an independent poll just showed that 75 percent of West Virginians agree with, is a reasonable approach that in no way infringes on our right to bear arms. It's shameful that Beretta, who seems to have no intention of moving from one of the most gun restrictive states in the country, is deceiving the great people of West Virginia in attempting to score a political point."
Beretta first won a federal contract to become a major supplier of pistols to all branches of the United States military in 1985. The company opened its gun-manufacturing facility in Maryland in 1997.
Last September, Beretta received a new five-year contract to provide another 100,000 pistols to the U.S. military.
On its website, Beretta states it "is the oldest firearms manufacturer in the world, dating back to 1526. Still run by the Beretta family, the company produces advanced firearms, optics and accessories known worldwide for their quality and reliability."
The National Rifle Association has run television ads against Manchin for sponsoring the bill, and Manchin - a lifetime NRA member -- has aired ads of his own in response.
Manchin has recently become involved in major arguments with the NRA, an organization in which he holds a lifetime membership.
"Manchin has long been given the highest ratings by the NRA and considered to be the most pro-gun Democrat in the United States Senate," Roberts said, adding that "The Manchin-Toomey legislation is actually very limited and was previously agreed to by the NRA.
"It would have no impact on everyday people, on West Virginians, on working families. The bill is also supported by police chiefs and law enforcement officials throughout the country," Roberts said.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.