In the aftermath of the massacre that left 20 children dead in Newtown, Connecticut, Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia -- who has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association -- is pushing the NRA to open up a "common sense" discussion about gun laws.
"It's time to move beyond rhetoric. We need to sit down and have a common-sense discussion and move in a reasonable way," Manchin said this morning on MSNBC. "Every child should have a safe place in their life."
Manchin, a "lifetime member" of the NRA, has been one of the most prominent pro-gun faces in the Democratic party. He heartily accepted the NRA's endorsement of his candidacy in 2010, and has an "A" rating from the pro-gun group. During his 2010 campaign, he released an ad in which he was shown using a rifle to shoot a bullet through a physical copy of cap-and-trade legislation.
A number of Democrats have come out in favor of stronger gun laws in the wake of the shooting, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza allegedly opened fire in an elementary school, killing 26 people before turning the gun on himself. Manchin's remarks are significant because they are among the first such comments coming out of the pro-gun community.
"I want to call all our friends in the NRA, sit down and have this - bring them into it. They have to be at the table. We all have to," he said. "This has changed the dialogue and it should move beyond dialogue -- we need action."
The power of the pro-gun lobby -- and specifically of the NRA -- is widely credited with the staunch opposition that nearly all gun control measures have faced in Congress in recent years. That strength will likely be tested in the coming weeks as Democrats push for a series of new laws.
"Anyone saying they don't want to talk and sit down and have that type of dialogue is wrong," Manchin said.
He also argued that hunters should have no need for high-capacity ammunition magazines and assault weapons for sport.
"I don't know anyone in the hunting or sporting arena that goes out with an assault rifle. I don't know anybody that needs 30 rounds in the clip to go hunting. I mean, these are things that need to be talked about," he said. "I've never had more than three shells in a clip. Sometimes you don't get more than one shot anyway at a deer. You know, it's common sense."
Lanza is believed to have perpetrated his rampage using his mother's legally-purchased guns. A law enforcement source told CBS News that among the weapons found on Lanza during the attack were two handguns -- a Sig Sauer and a Glock -- and a Bushmaster .223 assault rifle. He also reportedly had a fourth weapon in the trunk of the car.