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. Rudy NYC

    The Real Tom Paine wrote:

    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.
    I wonder if the right wing realizes that government has been requiring credit card institutions in the US to report any credit card purchases over $500, as part of the Bush administration's Patriot Act.

    January 9, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  2. Penobscot

    If his last name was Romney the libs would decry him as a flip flopper.

    January 9, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  3. Cain

    To really fix the gun violence in this country, you have to address 1) handguns which cause the majority of harm ( semi auto rifles cause almost 400 deaths versus the 11 thousand) and 2) address how to get guns out of the hands of criminals ( look at the statistic of guns purchased at gun shows ( private sellers only) that have been used in crimes - very low). If restrictions are placed on assault weapons and gun shows, statically it would only cause a small difference and it would not address some of the main reasons why gun owners have high cap mags and AR's – criminals have them and will continue to have them. ... And police response times are 5-10 min. Criminals attack when they know they can win, translation: deadlier weapons, easier targets, and/or multiple attackers. People were not safer after Katrina when guns were confiscated and outlawed.

    January 9, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  4. Ethan Nelson

    wow harry, nice job. I have always hated you so much, but limiting the government from collecting data on guns is great!. Its none of their business. The feds aren't our parents.

    January 9, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  5. Nick

    And again, a Democrat changes his tune so as to not let a good crisis go to waste. I wonder how much support he received from the NRA over the years, and now he's turning his back when it's politically expedient? Despicable doesn't even begin to describe this.

    When citizens have no means by which to protect themselves from the government, you have a police state. That is simply contrary to our Constitution. Not to mention that no government banned substance is unobtainable – just ask the criminals.

    January 9, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  6. Lynne S

    Maybe Harry needs to sit next to Gabrielle Giffords while he evolves to the same way that 84% of the American public feel. No one needs an assault weapon unless they are in the military. A "regulated" militia means there will be regulations. The rest of the world is shaking their heads at our ability to do nothing in the face of 33 of our citizens getting shot EVERY DAY.

    January 9, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  7. Al

    So in other words, the money the NRA give dingy Harry isn't enough to buy his support anymore. This guy is a scumbag, plain and simple. At least have the courage of your convictions.

    January 9, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  8. Vidyashanti

    Gun lobby should be listed as a terror group if they insist on having assault weapons, and no back ground check.

    January 9, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  9. much thunder.little rain

    harry knows neveda is still in the wild west....except for vegas ...cowboys are real...and they love guns....

    January 9, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  10. v_mag

    The NRA and all its paranoid followers want to wait until the last possible second to stop the slaughter of children instead of getting to the root of the problem. They want AR-15s to be produced, bought, loaded, brought to school and the first shots fire, and then their plan kicks in. At that point, they hope a teacher or administrator miraculously becomes Rambo.

    Normal, non-paranoid, non-chicken crap humans know that the place to stop gun violence is at the beginning, with the gun. Without the AR-15 or its equivalent, the crazy murderer does not have the means for mass killing of children. Taking all the assault weapons and putting them in the crusher prevents a massive attack and doesn't rely on a lucky shot by a 25 year old woman in a high stress situation to end the carnage.

    The NRA consists of the worst cowards in society who love their exploding toys more than they do little children.

    January 9, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  11. JennyTX

    Most people would agree the 2nd Amendment doesn't give us the right to own any weapon we want. Otherwise, people would own nuclear bombs, materials for chemical warfare, etc. Guns for hunting and self-protection, OK. Guns for mass killing sprees, not OK.

    January 9, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  12. J

    Of course he's going to change his position. He wants to be re-elected so he can hang on to the power and prestige of being a politician.

    January 9, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  13. Sagebrush Shorty

    As Bob Dylan said "You don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows." And Reid is just another re- election at any cost politician.

    January 9, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  14. Lou Salerno

    What needs to happen is that both sides of the gun issue need to step back from ridiculous extremes and sit down and come up with something workable in the middle. On the one hand you have the all-guns-are-bad-so-ban-them-all set and on the other it's the arm-all-the-teachers-and-everybody-else set. Neither argument is based on sound thinking and they're both sheer fantasy since neither one is ever going to happen.

    What the powers-that-be *should* look at imo, is much tougher sentencing laws at the federal level, for ANY crime involving a gun. Add federal time to any conviction at the state level, to be served on top of and after the state time, and maybe that will get the criminal element to think long & hard before carrying a gun, or using it, during a crime.

    Examples: someone arrested with an illegal gun on their person? +5 years. Arrested after a robbery or threatening someone with a gun where no shots were fired? +10 yrs. Fired the gun during the crime? +15 yrs. Injured someone with said gunfire? +25 yrs. Killed someone with the gunfire? LIFE w/out parole or the death penalty if it's on the books in the state where the crime was committed.

    The other side of the problem is mental health and firearms availability. There are already laws on the books that prohibit the sale of any gun to anyone with mental health issues. How one addresses this aspect without trampling on the rights of law-abiding citizens at the same time needs to be looked into, but i'm not sure what could be done here short of trampling the rights of *everyone*, regardless of stability or instability in the mental health area.

    Banning all guns is a fantasy since bans, by themselves, do not work, never have and never will. There are already plenty of bans on murder for example, and we see how much that helps in places like chicago, nyc, philadelphia and other large cities where gun ownership is already very restricted. If someone is criminally inclined to begin with, they won't care about the laws per-se but, they MAY begin to care about the *consequences* of the toughening of sentences as i outlined above. That might just get the criminally inclined to start considering their actions *before* they act.

    January 9, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  15. Joe B

    Better checks is only part of the problem. I feel people should own what they want, but with gun control we need a better system to check people out. We shouldn't ban certain types of guns because of a few sick in the head people. The real problem is violent movies, video games, music, tv shows and Internet content. Without the violent visuals people see today this problem will get better.

    To prove this look at the past when the same guns were available that we want to ban today. In the 70's and 80's, we had many more types of weapon platforms available then we have today. Because we have the visual on violence that we have today, we didn't have these sick crimes.

    Hollywood, parents and the government need to be more responsible when it comes to portraying violence for entertainment. Celebs are quick to jump on the ban the guns wagon, but are the biggest part of the problem with their movies. If you ban certain types of guns, you must ban the voilent content as well.

    Also remember that criminals do not buy guns in a legal way. They will always have access to weapons and a person bent on killing will always come up with a way to kill (Oklahoma bomber didn't use a gun at all). If we look at everything this country has made illega you will see that the government always fails.

    January 9, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  16. big jake

    do not allow a government buffoon to take your guns. Harry Reid is the WORST senate majority leader in the history of the country. his only constitutional duty is to write a budget, and he is SO incompetent, he cannot do that for over 3 years. democrats want to take your guns and your freedoms "for the common good"......beware.......

    January 9, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  17. Sniffit

    "now he's turning his back when it's politically expedient?"

    Reid just got 6 more years as a Senator and I'll bet you he's never running again. You want "courage of convictions"? Someone who refuses to stay "bought" in the face of overwhelming evidence that he's been wrong for a long time and who refuses to stay "bought" despite the political power in his state of the people who "bought" him...that person has courage of convictions. The NRA is strong in NV, very strong, and he's bucking what is likely the very popular majority position among voters in his state. That takes some political balls. If your argument is that "he just should've stayed bought," then all you're doing is demanding that he contribute to EXACTLY what the problem is in DC.

    January 9, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  18. Sniffit

    ""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," "

    Screw marijuana. Listening to these freaks, you'd think we legalized hallucinogens.

    January 9, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  19. Lee

    You can take the "Gun" out of gun violence but in the end you still have the violence. And that is perpetrated buy another human being. Change the behavior of the human.
    Guns are just tools to be used. They can be misused for destructive purposes or they can be use buy law abiding citizens for sports and leisure or for protection. The 2nd Amendment was put in place to reassure the people the the Ultimate power rest with "We the People" and not the Government.

    January 9, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  20. fiftyfive55

    Let's see if I get this right....The government wants to take our guns away from legal owners and at the same time give "ILLEGAL ALIENS" driver's licenses ? ...and people call "Me" paranoid !

    January 9, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  21. Outsider.92

    So exactly how much damage have the "Dirty Harry" and "Death Wish" movies done to our common sense?

    January 9, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  22. Wake up People!

    I'm truly astounded at some of the RWNJ's posting here. Because Harry Reid was a staunch gun supporter but now after witnessing (not literally) the mass murder of 27 innocent people, including 20 children, he is beginning to have a change of heart that makes him a flip flopper? Really?? A tragedy can't cause a person to see things differently?? Have none of you ever changed your mind about anything?? I have and will continue to. Just yesterday I was standing in Baskin Robbins ordering a butter pecan cone and just as the girl was about to scoop it, I asked for Blue Moon. Does that make me a flip flopper?

    Mitt Romney was a flip flopper, because he changed what he said according to whom he was talking to. He would have said ANYTHING to win.

    January 9, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  23. Bob


    Let's see if I get this right....The government wants to take our guns away from legal owners


    Utter stupidity

    January 9, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  24. Larry L

    The N.R.A. crowd uses condescending lectures to demonstrate how little non-gun owners know about guns. In doing so they tend to build an even stronger case against removal of certain classes of weapons from the shelves. They explain that semi-auto rifles that resemble military weapons aren't any more capable than semi-autos specifically made for hunting with traditional features. This is somewhat true, although those with internal magazines designed to be loaded singly offer lower rate of sustained fire. Another difference is seen in specialized devices to increase the rate of fire – like ratcheted triggers or those assisted through the stock (not just blow-back or gas operated).

    In the effort to prove our ignorance they essentially tell us all weapons with removable magazines or other rapid loading systems are as dangerous as military weapons. This would include all semi-auto pistols, some semi-auto shotguns, revolvers with speed-loaders, and even a few slide action, pump action, and lever action rifles or shotguns. They are giving lawmakers the answers.

    January 9, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  25. Canuck

    America – where gun ownership is a right but access to affordable health care isn't.

    January 9, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
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