West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin's pro-gun critics are making up "crap" about his current role in gun control discussions, the Democrat charged in a video posted to his YouTube account on Wednesday.
"I've been hearing rumors and lies about my position on guns," said Manchin, an NRA member. "I want to be clear and tell you, I'm a proud gun owner. Nobody's going to take my guns and I'm sure as hell not going to let them take your guns. This is a bunch of crap and people talking about things they don't know what they're talking about. The only bill that I have worked on and am working on is one that will keep guns out of the hands of criminals and people mentally deranged, and that's a fact."
Manchin's attempt to clarify the record comes as the National Association for Gun Rights, a national pro-gun group, launched a multi-pronged effort seeking to portray him as a "gun-grabber."
"You see, the gun-grabbers in Washington, D.C., are going for broke, doing everything they can to 'cash in' on the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut," the group wrote in a mailer to supporters earlier this month. "They're targeting EVERYTHING -- rifles, shotguns and even handguns."
The letter went on to claim that Manchin backed the establishment of a national gun registry and had thrown his weight behind "Dianne Feinstein's gun control scheme," referring to the California Democratic senator's renewed push for an assault weapons ban. Manchin has not endorsed Feinstein's effort, but he has emerged as an integral player in congressional negotiations over legislation to increase background checks on gun sales.
On Wednesday, the National Association for Gun Rights announced that it was expanding its campaign against Manchin to include TV and radio ads. In a statement, the group's executive vice president, Dudley Brown, accused Manchin of wanting to "herd gun owners into this federal registration system" with his support for expanding background checks.
Brown went on to say that the National Association for Gun Rights was intent on protecting gun owners from "Manchin's gun ban agenda."