Manchin Right On Gun Checks

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s detractors sometimes have accused him of being more interested in winning elections than doing the right thing, especially if that involves an unpleasant political fight.

Any number of people, including leaders of West Virginia’s two big teachers’ unions, could tell the critics they are wrong. When he needs to go to battle for a worthwhile cause, such as improving Mountain State schools, Manchin does not flinch.

He is taking punches again right now, over a proposal to stiffen background checks for gun buyers. Manchin, among those who crafted the bill, has become its chief spokesman.

That has cost him popularity among some who fear government infringements upon Second Amendment rights. Just last week, gun maker Beretta took a shot at Manchin, claiming his support of the bill has convinced company officials to scrap a potential move of company facilities to West Virginia.

But Manchin is not backing down – and good for him for sticking to his guns, as it were.

Most thoughtful West Virginians agree with Manchin. Stiffening the background check laws, especially on sales at gun shows and online, may prevent some firearms from falling into the hands of criminals and/or the mentally ill.

Manchin’s first attempt at getting the bill through the Senate failed decisively. That prompted him to take a look at the measure and adjust it to make it more palatable to some of those who had reasonable concerns.

Now Manchin says he will try again. He is right to do so. Senators, then House of Representatives members, should approve the bill. It does not endanger basic rights and may do some good.

Meanwhile, Manchin’s critics – both conservatives and liberals – may want to reevaluate their opinions of him.