January 8th, 2013
07:17 PM ET
5 years ago

Reid adviser: Senate majority leader 'in a different place' on gun control

Washington (CNN) - A staunch supporter of gun rights for years, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may be changing his position on the contentious issue in the aftermath of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

The nation’s top Democrat in Congress has faced scrutiny in recent weeks for his close ties with the National Rifle Association. On December 30, the Washington Post reported that Reid slipped a provision into the 2010 national health care law that restricts the government from collecting data on gun ownership.

A Democratic source close to the passage of the landmark legislation said the last-minute provision was aimed at avoiding any opposition from the NRA that could have scuttled the entire bill.

"This is what was viewed as a relatively benign way to make sure the NRA didn't get involved with this," the Democratic source told CNN.

However an adviser to Reid, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Reid’s feelings on gun control have changed since President Barack Obama signed health care reform into law.

"He’s in a different place than he was in 2010," the adviser told CNN.

As Senate majority leader, Reid has great influence to speed or slow the consideration of legislation on Capitol Hill.

In the aftermath of the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, Reid told reporters that "with the schedule we have, we're not going to get into a debate on gun control."

But in the days after the shooting in Newtown, Reid’s posture changed. "We need to accept the reality that we are not doing enough to protect our citizens,” Reid said on the Senate floor.

Reid aggressively courted the support of gun enthusiasts in a close battle for re-election in 2010. One week after the president signed the health care bill, Reid invited the NRA’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, to the opening of a new gun range in Nevada.

At the event, LaPierre praised Reid’s work on gun rights.

“I also want to thank you for your support every day at the federal level for the Second Amendment and for the rights of gun owners," LaPierre told the crowd.

During the fierce debate over the health care law, a few health care advocates who spotted the gun provision, entitled “Protection of Second Amendment Gun Rights,” immediately suspected the NRA’s involvement.

“It’s obviously a testament to the power of the NRA lobby,” Ethan Rome, the executive director of Health Care for America Now, said.

Democratic sources say the NRA was not viewed as the only threat to the health care law. Lawmakers were also concerned about conspiracy theories circulating on conservative blogs that falsely accused the Obama administration of seeking to use the health care law to strip gun owners of their firearms.

One firearms advocacy group, Gun Owners of America, insists the law remains a concern.

"It says that all of our medical records are available to be pawed through by bureaucrats somewhere in Washington, looking for a reason to disenfranchise gun owners," the group’s president, Larry Pratt, said on a Web radio show last November.

Filed under: Gun rights • Harry Reid
soundoff (276 Responses)
  1. Fil

    Government has no business counting my guns. What an insidious bunch!

    Cohen the Barbarian

    January 9, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  2. Wilson

    His support for gun owners was the one and only thing I liked about Harry Reid.

    January 9, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  3. Gurgyl

    Do we forget 26 kids that were killed?????nonsense. Pass gun-control laws. When we Re tough how in the world criminal gets guns? Nonsense. BS.

    January 9, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  4. jinx88

    Politicians are more worried about their political career these days than what the majority of Americans wants. This is why nothing will ever get done on any big issue.

    January 9, 2013 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  5. jimmyjo

    Why would gun laws be in a healthcare bill???

    January 9, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  6. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The blood of our precious children is being spilled out in classrooms and on the streets of America and we are having arguments about what to do. The blood of one Israeli is precious to every Israeli and they respond quickly so how can we be proven to be protective of Israel when we aren't doing anything to protect our children. This country is sending the wrong message around the World.

    January 9, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  7. JohnD

    Sounds like Granny Clampett is worried about re-election already. One more reason to vote him out!

    January 9, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    There are common sense restrictions on the 1st Amendment. We need to install some common sense restrictions on the 2nd Amendment. Anyone who thinks the 2nd Amendment is blank check, write your own script on gun ownership needs to be institutionalized.

    January 9, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  9. mcwreiole

    Mitt Romney and the Republicans "flip flop", Harry Reid and President Obama "evolve" hahhahahahaah

    January 9, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  10. DMG2FUN

    Shall not infringe means no compromise.

    January 9, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  11. Wilson

    Yep. 50 years ago, I'd be classified as a liberal Democrat.

    Unfortunately the far left socialist/Marxist/hippies hijacked the Democratic party. So, I'm a conservative Republican..

    January 9, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  12. Washington Is Out Of Touch with reality

    changing his tune, thats because he is old, gray and wants to remain a dictator

    January 9, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  13. joesmith

    wonder if you will be able to carry, on the train harry is building from la to las vegas..

    January 9, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  14. spud494334

    Mr. Reid will take whatever position will serve him best politically. Just like B.O.

    January 9, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  15. DENNA

    @Dennis – Reid is a bitter old man, who as a Socialist has voted to destroy American Moral Values, moved people from work to welfare, . . . .
    Wow, bitter much you gun-owning nut? I am not against guns, just against crazy people having them.

    Socialist, blah blah. Destroy American Moral Values, blah, blah. Moved people from work to welfare, blah, blah. Just deserts for you would be your needing assistance and not being able to get it. Don't worry, if I pass you on the street, I will give you some spare change because that is what Christians do. Am I being judgemental? Yes I am. That makes me just like you. Corporate America, the beloved partner of the GOP, moved people from work to welfare by sending our jobs to China. The Democrats are trying to get America moving again and attitudes like yours don't help.

    January 9, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  16. James

    We have this same bait and switch in Indiana where Joe Donnelly ran on his firm commitment to the second amendment and now is turning so he can be popular with the liberal elitists. An Assault Weapon ban will do nothing. None of this gun control will do anything. "Assault styled weapons" are classified as rifles and according to FBI studies rifles kill 350 a year between 2007 and 2011 and "Assault style weapons" were a small fraction of that. That means maybe 2 people per state were killed by assault style weapons. The ban is purely cosmetic and do not have anything to do with the function of the weapon. These laws are nothing more than smoke and mirrors. a recent DOJ study found "analysis found that people with major mental
    disorders such as schizophrenia had statistically
    significant higher rates of violence than those who
    did not (11-13 percent - the percentage varied
    depending on the particular diagnosed illness -
    compared to 2 percent)." But lets not talk about that it isn't as sexy as gun control and won't keep you on t.v.

    January 9, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    If you changed the name of deadly weapon used at Sandy Hook from gun to knife, would there be a knife lobby in DC advocating that we need to give everyone a knife so that they can defend themseles? Seriously.

    January 9, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  18. TrueIndependent

    Let's see.....there was an election between those two comments by Reid! He's not 'changing positions', he is playing politics and playing it safe. Just another slimy politician checking to see which way the 'wind' is blowing.......

    January 9, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  19. JB

    @mcwreiole, I think flip-flop versus evolved can be applied to most any politician over time on certain issues....however as a staunch democrat that coincidentally has spent a huge part of my life having no great love for a gun nor seeing a real reason to have one therefore not caring too much for protecting the 2nd amendment..however, i personally have EVOLVED over time to understand that even though i still have no great love for guns that banning them or limiting the number of guns a responsible gun owner has is not the answer.....so yes, some people do evolve, and yes some are wishy washy and flip-flop based singularly on what situation the find themselves in regardless to their own personal beliefs....

    January 9, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  20. Sane Person

    Since conservatives want NO gun control whatsoever, I guess they wouldn't object to my friend Mohammad who lives down the road stockpiling rocket launchers?

    January 9, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  21. WillB

    If you take the time to read the proposal from Dianne Feinstein, you'll see that the 5th Amendment is being repealed along with the 2nd Amendment if her proposal becomes law. Some agency (not yet identified) will not only have complete access to every medical record in the US (gun owner or not), but it imposes the responsibility for collecting the data and putting it into a national database on doctors, hospitals, druggists, etc. They will also be held liable if they do not submit timely data and do not keep it up-to-date. Next time you get a doctor's bill (or hospital or Rx) notice how much the cost has risen due to the new Feinstein Reporting requirements.

    January 9, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  22. sbssue1

    Reid is now showing his true colors.....he's a follower, not a leader. Stand on your own and up against those that think different than we do. The bad guy is always going to have a gun no matter what these folks say. I think others should be able to protect themselves...........Stupid is as Stupid does.

    January 9, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  23. The Real Tom Paine

    -"It says that all of our medical records are available to be pawed through by bureaucrats somewhere in Washington, looking for a reason to disenfranchise gun owners," the group’s president, Larry Pratt, said on a Web radio show last November.
    I wonder if he has complained about the ability the government has to monitor your cell phone calls, texts, emails, all in the name of national security. Of course not. According to the RIght, after 9/11 we lived in a different world, so it was the new normal to have personal communciations monitored, and since they implemented it, it was perfectly acceptable. However, since we all know that lowering healthcare costs is part of an insidious plot to ultimately deny us the right to hoard weapons and ammo for the battle with the New World Order, its a differnent ball game.

    January 9, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  24. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    If the Founding Fathers meant good for our democracy, they have failed miserably. They had no vision as far as the impact the second amendment would have on our society whatsoever and they overlooked the flaws that the second amendment could and would have on our society in the long run. Or perhaps the Founding Fathers didn't go wrong. Perhaps it was left to our legislators of past administrations to properly interpret the constitution and make the necessary adjustments along the way to deal with a modern and more complex society. Unfortunately, the interests of the lobbyists and the wealthy seem to be more important than the safety, well being, growth and peace of mind of our citizens. This society is by far the dumbest society in the history of the world.

    January 9, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    DMG2FUN wrote:

    Shall not infringe means no compromise.
    Fine, you can own as many muskets as you wish.

    While we're at it, what about the part about "well regulated militia". Many on the right try to punt their way by claiming the phrase means "well trained", which is still a losing argument in my mind. I take the meaning literally, and I also consider the fact that the fledgling country did not yet have an official standing army.

    January 9, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
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