Manchin: Background check bill will pass

NEW YORK—West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said Tuesday he's optimistic that a revised bipartisan bill to expand background checks for gun sales will pass the Senate.

"We really need five votes," Manchin, a Democrat, said during an interview at the Atlantic's New York Ideas Festival. The original bill, which Manchin co-sponsored with Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, failed in a 54-46 Senate vote last month.

A new bill, Manchin said, is in the works. "Oh, it's coming back," he said.

Manchin said he needs to educate law-abiding gun owners who support the legislation but don't trust the government.

"The big problem is that they're afraid that this is the first step because they've seen overreach," he said.

The background check bill, Manchin said, not only protects Second Amendment rights, but expands them.

Other detractors said the bill might infringe on gun transfers between family members. "It doesn't at all," Manchin said.

The Democratic senator also scoffed at talk of the "culture war" discussed at the National Rifle Association convention in Houston over the weekend as cage-rattling rhetoric.

"What you saw was the division that's going on across the country," Manchin, a gun owner and member of the NRA, said. "I don't know why we can't sit and talk and work together as Americans."

Manchin said the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., affected his views.

"If Newtown didn't change you, nothing will," Manchin said. "It made you think, 'Can we do something a little better?'"

Twenty-six people, including 20 children, were killed in the Dec. 14, 2012, shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Manchin added: "None of those families came to my office and asked to repeal the Second Amendment." They asked him to make it harder for people who are bent on killing to get guns.

"That was a small ask," he said.