The National Rifle Association has gone silent since the Dec. 14 mass school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, but a Democratic senator endorsed by the group said on Monday his "friends" from the group should be involved in any future discussions regarding gun legislation.
"They have to be at the table," Sen. Joe Manchin (D-VA) told the panel on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "We all have to, as a parent, as a grandparent, move forward. We can't eliminate and say, 'Well, they're gonna be over here so we gotta go this way.' I'm telling you I believe this is the time for us to sit down and move in a responsible manner."
Like host Joe Scarborough, Manchin is an NRA member. Monday, Scarborough said in a commentary that the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary, which left 20 children dead and 6 staff members, "changed everything" for him.
For his part, Manchin, an avowed hunter, admitted that the tragedy challenged his beliefs, as well.
"Like many Americans, I like shooting, but this doesn't make sense," Manchin said. "I don't know anyone in the sporting and hunting arena who goes out with an assault rifle; I don’t know anyone who needs 30 rounds in the clip to go hunting."
Manchin's remarks came a day after 31 pro-gun lawmakers reportedly turned down invitations to appear on NBC's Meet The Press. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the NRA's Facebook page had apparently been suspended.
However, Manchin dodged repeated calls for specifics on where he would start any talks about future gun regulation, instead pointing to calls to action from fellow senators Diane Fienstein (D-CA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Manchin drew attention to himself two years ago when he released a campaign ad touting his endorsement by the NRA and promising he would take "dead aim" at the American Clean Energy and Security Act, aka the "cap and trade bill," after which he shot a hole through a document standing in for the bill.
Watch Manchin's discussion with the Morning Joe panel, aired Monday on MSNBC, below.