"Not only do we promote violence. We glorify it with the videos children watch and the games they play.
Manchin also believes "a mental health component would help in issuing gun permits." Congress, he said, should look at ways to improve the nation's mental health system.
Manchin talked about a television advertisement in his 2010 campaign for Senate, in which he used a rifle to shoot a hole through a "cap and trade" bill, referring to legislation to increase environmental regulations on coal.
"If you look at the rifle I was using, it was a one-shot rifle I use when I am hunting. I used it in the most responsible and safe manner. That is what I was taught," he said.
Congress passed a nationwide assault weapons ban in 1994, but the ban expired in 2004. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., plans to introduce similar legislation in the near future. Manchin didn't say Monday if he would support that bill.
"We will be anxious to see it," he said. "We want to see if it is a responsible way to move forward."
West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas issued a statement late Monday afternoon calling Manchin's statements "classless" and accusing him of trying to politicize the Sandy Hook deaths.
Other members of Congress known for their pro-gun rights stances, including Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also said Monday that they wanted to re-examine the nation's gun laws after the Sandy Hook shooting.
"This is a dialog that needs to happen now. I am not saying there will be mammoth changes," Manchin said. "But as a lifetime gun owner with an 'A' rating from the NRA, I am not afraid to discuss these issues."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.