West Virginia's junior senator responded to the Citizens Defense League protest in a statement Saturday afternoon.
"I welcome this conversation and an open dialogue with members of the West Virginia Citizens Defense League -- and all groups that feel strongly," Manchin said. "I hope that Keith Morgan and other members of the group will sit down with me and have an open discussion. In West Virginia, sitting down together is how we fix things."
Manchin continued, "For my part, I ask the members of the Citizens Defense League and others with strong views to be open to this discussion. My hope is that, in West Virginia, we don't go down the Washington path, where guilt by association becomes guilt by conversation. These issues are too important to ignore."
Manchin said he encourages everyone to "contact my office to share your views on the issue of confronting mass violence. Since the killings of our children at Newtown, I have called for an open discussion with everything on the table, so that we can do everything in our power to prevent another horrific massacre of our most innocent children."
Morgan said his group would be open to talking with Manchin, but that the senator is just "badly out of touch with West Virginians in general.
"We are certainly willing to sit down and listen to Senator Manchin, but our membership has started referring to him as 'flipper' and we would approach his opinions most likely with a grain of salt," Morgan said after hearing Manchin's statement. "Senator Manchin's seat may be in jeopardy. We're not going to forget this in six years."
Morgan said that after the group conducts a second protest -- which doesn't yet have a set date but will be outside Manchin's Martinsburg office -- members of the Citizens Defense League will sit down with the senator to "see what Manchin can do to help gun owners in West Virginia."
Reach Megan Workman at megan.work...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.