Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has signaled his support for raising the minimum age of American civilians purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.
While speaking to CNN on Monday, the centrist Democrat said he's "open to doing something that makes sense" regarding age-based restrictions with high-powered rifles.
From Manchin's perspective, this three-year maturity gap could help curb gun violence down the road.
"We know we can do something that would have prevented [the Uvalde, Texas, mass shooting]. Raising the age, making sure that the age at least gives us a chance to work with that person, see and evaluate if they have a little maturity to them," Manchin said.
The senator's comments come 13 days after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which led to the deaths of 19 children and two adults.
The shooting suspect, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, allegedly opened fire on a single classroom at Robb Elementary.
According to the Daily Mail, Ramos used an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, which he had legally purchased just days before the school attack, and shortly after his 18th birthday.
In Monday's CNN interview, Manchin acknowledged he has participated in "sport shooting" or hunting outings. Still, Manchin doesn't see the rationale behind every-day citizens needing an AR-15 rifle.
"I never thought I had a need for that type of hyper-high-capacity automatic weapon. I like to shoot; I like to go out and hunt. I like to go out sport shooting. I do all that. But I've never felt I needed something of that magnitude," said Manchin.
The Democrat-controlled House chamber is slated to vote on a bill soon that would nationalize so-called "red flag laws," which are designed to keep firearms away from those who are a threat to themselves or others.
However, the same bill might have difficulty getting through the 50-50 Senate, even if Manchin sides with his own party.
To bring substantive changes to established laws, it requires a 60-vote approval threshold; and without that, the Senate Democrats likely wouldn't have the votes to enact sweeping gun reform.
On May 25, Manchin embraced calls for gun reform in the U.S., but also stopped short of supporting any measure that requires the Senate 60-vote filibuster to be scrapped.
Regarding red flag laws, Manchin says these measures can be effective, "as long as there is due process."
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