CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said the National Rifle Association's ad calling President Obama an "elitist hypocrite" was a spot that he would not have run himself, while other lawmakers representing West Virginia in Congress discussed the ad and Obama's proposed gun control measure Wednesday.
On Tuesday night, the NRA posted a video on its website attacking Obama for opposing putting armed guards in schools across the country.
"Are the president's kids more important that yours? Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their schools?" the NRA asked in a 30-second video clip.
"He's just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security. Protection for their kids and gun-free zones for ours."
White House spokesman Jay Carney called the ad "repugnant and cowardly."
While Manchin said he would not have run such an ad, Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., said, "Everyone's kids, grandkids and great-grandkids ought to be off limits in politics."
On Wednesday, the NRA attacked Obama's proposals for executive orders to set up more rigorous background checks for purchasing guns, calling its upcoming battle against Obama's proposals "fight of the century."
Obama also urged Congress to pass legislation that would require background checks for all gun sales and ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, according to the Associated Press.
Rahall told the Gazette that the "problem is bigger, broader than guns. We have to enforce and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who don't abide by existing laws. We have to better identify those with mental illnesses and criminal backgrounds who are a threat to themselves and others."
The gun controversy erupted in the wake of 26 deaths from shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.
Rahall said efforts should be made to provide "additional counseling and mental health services for young adults," as well as strengthening background checks for people who buy weapons.
"While the President has unveiled his recommendations," Rahall said, "Congress is not bound to accept any of his legislative proposals. I expect and will push for a full debate so that West Virginians have every opportunity to understand the proposals before the Congress and to make their views known."
Manchin said, "I appreciate the work that went into the president's recommendations. I have not had a chance to review them yet, because I have been meeting with West Virginians today to discuss school safety and the culture of mass violence that has permeated our society today."
But Manchin was disappointed that Obama "did not recommend the creation of the National Commission on Mass Violence that [Manchin had] proposed. ... 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."
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., plans to reintroduce a bill to study the impact that violent content in video games has upon children.
"The President today announced a strong, comprehensive plan to protect our citizens from gun violence. In West Virginia, we have a proud tradition of hunting and understand the importance of the Second Amendment. We can protect those traditions and rights as we look at ways to prevent senseless acts of 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. ... I support steps that build on these ideas, while making sure our hunters' and sportsmen's rights are protected," Rockefeller said.
"The impact of violent content on our kids' well being is an important issue, and I'm glad [Obama's] new plan will take a close look at it. ... Next week, I plan to reintroduce my bill to have the National Academy of Sciences study the link between violent content and children's behavior."
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., did not respond to questions about her opinion of the controversial NRA ad, but released a statement criticizing Obama's executive orders. Obama signed 23 executive actions on Wednesday related to gun control, AP reported, which are in addition to his proposals before Congress.
"West Virginians want us to work together to find common ground solutions to reduce gun violence in the United States -- a goal we all share. That's why I am disappointed that President Obama issued an executive order today instead of showing willingness to work with Congress and state leaders to address this serious issue.
"Whether appointing czars to run car companies, using the EPA to regulate where it can legislate, or using executive orders to circumvent Congress on gun control, the president has displayed a worrisome willingness to use the White House to advance ideological agendas."
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., did not respond to a request for comment.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.