PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In the wake of the latest mass killing of school children, many Americans feel exactly as the President when he spoke Sunday night at a memorial service in Connecticut.

“We can’t tolerate this anymore,” said President Obama. “These tragedies must end. Surely we can do better than this.”

But doing better involves a rethinking of America’s gun laws.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, rated an ‘A’ by the National Rifle Association, signaled it’s time for changes.

“We’re afraid to talk about some things that basically should be talked about. I don’t know of anybody who goes hunting with an assault rifle. I don’t know anybody who needs 10, 20, 30 round clips,” said Manchin.

But to limit access to semi-automatic guns that shoot multiple bullets will require support from NRA-endorsed congressmen like U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, an Upper St. Clair Republican, who at the moment says he’s more focused on the other aspect of this tragedy… mental illness.

“Let’s be honest. With all the things that have happened, with all these massive shootings, the issues of gun control and those dialogues are not getting us to the raw answer if it’s a mental illness problem,” Murphy told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, a Forest Hills Democrat, says it’s not either-or.

Common sense gun restrictions must make it harder for someone mentally ill to kill.

“This young man was able to get off 30 shots before he had to reload. To me, there is no civilian purpose for that. You don’t hunt with a clip that shoots 50 bullets,” Doyle added.

Whether Congress will act or not, lawmakers may have a hard time ducking the issues.

“Who would have ever thought in America, or anywhere in the world, that children would be slaughtered,” said Manchin.

And it was that slaughter of innocents that caused Manchin to admit, “It’s changed me.”

The West Virginia senator said everything about guns should be up for debate.

“Reforms that we’re looking at: assault weapons — and basically how they get in the hands of deranged people — and basically the clips, the multiple clips, that [New York Senator] Chuck Schumer’s moving on that. We’re going to look at all of that. It’s all on the table.”

Manchin’s willingness to find a compromise signals other strong gun supporters in Congress.

KDKA contacted many of our local lawmakers. U.S. Sens. Bob Casey, Pat Toomey, and U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly were all unavailable to discuss how the shootings affected their thinking.

U.S. Rep. Murphy, also top-rated by the NRA, was willing to speak — but his focus is on mental illness.

“If you have a child or young adult, someone in the house, who has any propensity towards violence, any threats, even an interest or fascination in it, there should be no accessible guns, period,” said Murphy.

And Murphy points to violent video games — rather than guns.

“Violent video games and television that children watch does have that desensitizing effect. When it becomes something that kids obsess about and play all the time, that has an important impact upon their personality, their thinking process, their emotions and their behavior,” he added.

But Doyle says Congress shouldn’t get sidetracked from the weapon used to kill these children.

“These should be banned. They are military weapons. They should be in the hands of military and law enforcement, not in the hands of every day citizens,” said Doyle.

W. Va. Senator Joe Manchin: Time To Rethink Gun Legislation (12/17/12)
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