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Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Unknown


Mr. MANCHIN. Madam President, first of all, I wish to thank all of my colleagues because I know it has been a difficult time and there are an awful lot of people who have different comments on this legislation. They have different feelings about it. There are an awful lot of facts and nonfacts, truths and untruths that have been out there, and I wish to set a few of those things straight.

I think the Presiding Officer knows I am a proud gun owner. I come from a tradition in West Virginia, the same as the Presiding Officer from North Dakota. I am an A-rated lifetime, card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association. I agree wholeheartedly with the mission of the NRA, which is to defend the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding, gun-owning American citizens such as the Presiding Officer and myself, to promote firearms and hunting safety. As a matter of fact, as Governor, I promoted the Eddie Eagle Program in West Virginia along with our friends. The NRA's mission includes promoting marksmanship and educating the general public about firearms.

I carry my card with me. I have had this for quite some time. It is a lifetime membership. Ever since I became a member, I have read all the magazines, as have most of us when we get them, and I have gotten all the special notices about when there was something of concern. I have always read their material, and I have said, Oh, that is great; I am glad someone is saying this and speaking out.

I was surprised when the latest alerts from the NRA were filled with so much misinformation about the firearms background check legislation that Senator Toomey and I are trying to get in front of the Senate to be passed. They are telling their members that our legislation would--and I quote--I want to quote this--``criminalize the private transfer of firearms by honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors and some family members to get Federal Government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution.''

Where I come from in West Virginia--I don't know how to put the words any plainer than this--that is a lie. That is simply a lie. Anybody who can read knows that is not factual. There is nothing in this bill--there is not a universal background check. There is nothing in this bill that says if a person is living in a neighborhood and they want to sell a neighbor their gun, they can't do it. No background checks are required. If a person comes from a State with the gun traditions we have in our State, the gun culture, that person can give it to their son, their grandson, any of their family members, and no background check is needed. Why they would say the private transfer of firearms by honest citizens--this bill protects honest gun-loving, law-abiding citizens more than any piece of legislation we have had in the last two to three decades, and I think people who have read the bill know that.

I remember when the NRA used to feel a lot differently about background checks and it wasn't all that long ago. Back in 1999, their executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, testified before Congress that background checks were reasonable. In fact, he said it over and over and over. Let me quote Mr. LaPierre: ``We think it's reasonable to provide for instant checks at gun shows just like at gun stores and pawnshops.''

Because the law says if a person goes to a gun store now that is a licensed dealer, a person has to do the background check, and by law they have to keep the record, and by law they cannot use that as a registration. They cannot, by law. In our bill, we even make sure any type of information for registration cannot be used. We said if a person tries to do it--if a government agency or a person who works for the government tries to use any of these records, it is a felony with 15 years of imprisonment. That is how much this bill protects my rights as a law-abiding gun owner.


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