Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) on Thursday said "thank God they kicked in" when asked about private companies implementing their own, non-government mandated forms of gun control.
Bloomberg's "Daybreak" co-host Alix Steel noted Kroger's announcement about its Fred Meyer stores no longer selling firearms and ammunition to customers under 21 years of age, prompting co-host David Westin to ask Manchin whether the private sector was taking over the government on the gun issue.
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"We see company after company after company now coming out and having their own sort of form of gun control," Westin added.
"Thank God they've kicked in," Manchin said. "Here's the thing, what I've always said: ‘follow the money.' When the market starts reacting and they see basically their consumers say, ‘enough is enough.'"
Manchin went on to praise the private sector for putting pressure on government during this "dysfunctional, very toxic, political atmosphere" that Washington, D.C. is facing. He also gave credit to several of the Stoneman Douglas High School student survivors who have been outspoken gun control advocates following a shooting that killed 17 students and teachers two weeks ago in Parkland, Florida.
"Im going to protect the Second Amendment rights. I'm going to protect the law-abiding gun owners that I grew up with and hunt with and are still my dearest friends," Manchin said. "But on the other hand, I want to make sure that I protect their families– that a criminal or a terrorist or someone that's insane is not able to get a gun and do harm to them."
Manchin told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" co-host Willie Geist on Wednesday that he would vote against an AR-15 ban if one came to the Senate floor.
"Well right now, I would say that I don't have any friends that own the gun right now. I don't know anyone's committed a crime with it, so I wouldn't take their gun away," Manchin said.
The West Virginia Democrat, who is up for reelection later this year, is part of a group of bipartisan senators who introduced legislation this week to ban individuals on certain terrorist watch lists from purchasing a gun.