January 8th, 2013
07:17 PM ET
2 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. NickAnast

    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 !

    *************************************************************

    You are paranoid. No one wants to take guns away from legal owners. The assault weapon ban of 1994 had a grandfather clause that allowed people who already had legally purchased assault weapons to keep them; further manufacture and sales of such weapons were banned. Any new such legislation is almost certain to contain a similar provision.

    Speaking of driver's licenses for illegal aliens, along with a driver's license you also need insurance to legally drive a car. So why not require all gun owners to purchase liability insurance as well?

    January 9, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  2. blue dog

    Killing of 26 innocents can flip anybody except NRA.

    January 9, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Lou Salerno wrote:

    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.
    -------------–
    Wrong. There is no strong push from the left to ban all guns. That's just hyperbole coming from gun lobbyists and the NRA. It's all part of the "slippery slope" argument that they love to make. "If you take this away, then they'll take everything away."

    We have common sense limits on the 1st Amendment. Why can't we have common sense limits on the 2nd Amendment? Because gun makers would rather make a profit. They use the altruistic arguments about "rights and freedom", or "they're taking away all of your guns" to feed some panicky minds. The 2nd Amendment was created to help allow the creation of a standing army at a time when the US didn't have one of its own.

    January 9, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  4. Larry L

    @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 !
    =============================================================================================
    Who has proposed that "the government wants to take away our guns from legal owners"? All dialogue seems to be about limiting unrestricted sales, stopping production and distribution of high-capacity and high rate-of-fire weaponry, and better background checks. Nobody has or will propose removal of existing guns "from the cold, dead hands" of fat bubbas playing war. You will be able to fondle your long, hard gun barrel forever, all the while pretending to be a real Soldier. No black Suburbans, no U.N. stormtroopers, nothing... Remember... the right-wing made that stuff up. It's dangerous to start believing your own fantasies.

    How many mass murders have been committed by illegal aliens? It's better not to allow your xenophobia to interface with your paranoia. It gets too complicated...

    January 9, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  5. blake

    No surprise here. Reid has no regard for the constitution and no common sense. He consistently sides with the other loonies on the far left.

    January 9, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  6. Foreseen

    He should be the first to turn in his guns, voluntarily, and leave mine alone!

    January 9, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. NickAnast

    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).
    *******************************************************
    The easiest way to do this is to limit gun purchases to one per month per person, require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns, and also to close the gun-show and Internet loophole. Everyone knows that ex-cons and others who cannot pass a background check buy their guns from straw buyers. Straw buyers can walk into a gun shop, purchase a dozen or more guns, pass a background check, and walk out and then sell the guns. When the guns are used to commit crimes, the straw buyer - the legal owner of the gun - simply tells the police that the gun was either lost or stolen, and he just hadn't found the time to report it to the police.

    January 9, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  8. v_mag

    Lee makes a very astute point: "Guns are just tools to be used." So are rocket propelled grenades, tanks, fighter jets and tactical nuclear weapons. Heroin is just a tool to be used for leisure and entertainment. A bottle of Jack Daniels is just a tool to enhance the enjoyment of driving a semi.

    NRA stooges do not discriminate very well between similar things, like a firecracker and a hand grenade. They are alike, up to a point. What I don't get is why the NRA, which is clearly not able to make an objective statement about assault weapons, is even allowed to participate in the discussion.

    January 9, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. sevenseas

    "Wrong. There is no strong push from the left to ban all guns. That's just hyperbole coming from gun lobbyists and the NRA. It's all part of the "slippery slope" argument that they love to make. "If you take this away, then they'll take everything away."" -Rudy NYC

    If this is true explain Iowa State Rep Dan Muhlbauer saying that semi autos should be banned and confiscated.

    January 9, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  10. Ancient Texan

    The flurry of indignation over "assault rifles": merely semi automatics that have been around for many many decades and most farmboys grew up with, have been redesigned and made to have a military look by the manufacters and aside from the large clips, or magazines. The makers have hurt their own cause and will now bring on more un necessary controls. Hunting with a single shot weapon is going back in time a hundred years.

    January 9, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  11. Haze

    Best bet is to buy what you want now before they enact any legislation that restricts specific firearms or onerous registration. Dirty Harrry I am sure will again attach something to another bill if Obama does not get his coveted restrictions. We all expected both men to lie through their teeth and were correct. Thats why most of community has already made purchases.

    January 9, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  12. Jerry

    What do you expect from a liar trained by the Head Honcho Himself (Obamalooney)?! Now, come to think of it, I am not sure who trained whom. I am not a Republican, but when Democrats and the other "Bender Forwards" refer to the Republicans as the party of "NO"; Senile Reed epitomizes the party of partisan "NO." Oh well...

    January 9, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  13. Sniffit

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

    No no no...you've got it all confused. This is freedumb! We should be free to lose our childrenz to bullets in their brains and free to retire without any means of obtaining housing or medical treatment!!! FREEDUMBZ!!!!!

    January 9, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  14. Sniffit

    "If this is true explain Iowa State Rep Dan Muhlbauer saying that semi autos should be banned and confiscated."

    Anecdotes are data? Who knew?

    That's ONE person talnig about a ban on SOME types of guns. It doesn't even remotely constitute evidence of a "strong push to ban all guns.'

    NEXT.

    January 9, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  15. Anonymous

    The cat is out of the bag. The law will not allow the government to take guns from citizens. Make everyone that wants to shoot a high cap gun to get training and a permit like for duck hunting, or a permit to carry a pistol. 88,000,000 people in the US own one or more guns, most (99%) are law abiding citizens, why take away from them for the few stupid people. That would be like saying that we all had to ride the bus because cars kill 23,000 per year. by the way 141 of them are in the ages of 1-10 years old.

    January 9, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. think4yourself

    What does data collection of gun ownership have to do with health care. Congress needs to stop adding these unrelated provisions to bills. I propose congress draft a new bill indicating that all bills should relate to one topic only. if it is a health care bill, keep agriculture, defense, welfare, social security, income taxes, unemployment, balanced budget, debt ceiling, illegal immigration, gun control, global warming, and bank bailouts out of it and focus on health care only. You want a law preventing the government from collecting data on gun owners, then introduce a bill for new gun laws, don't try to slip a gun law in a bill designed for something completely unrelated. This is the problem with our system.

    January 9, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. ThinkAgain: All the GOP's policies are proven failures.

    1. Close the loophole that allows for unlimited weapons purchases at gun shows without a background check.
    2. Ban assault-style weapons.
    3. Make every male potential gun purchaser drop trou; if smaller than 3 inches, deny the sale.

    January 9, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  18. Oakspar77777

    "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."

    Actually, many of the founding fathers personally owned cannon (which is still legal, by the way) and clearly meant that citizens should be armed enough to overthrow their government if the need was great (since that is what they did).

    The 2nd Amendment is not about hunting (hunting could be completely outlawed without affecting the 2nd at all). It is about overthrowing the government, protecting the country from other governments, and as of the recent SCOTUS ruling – self defense.

    Since you agree for self denfense, how can you limit what the citizen can own? If the spree killer comes at me with an AR, what do I need to defend myself? If it is several armed thugs, what do I need to defend myself? If you limit my right to self denese are you willing to accept liability for my safety?

    It is already against the law to use a gun in a killing spree (and sprees have happened with handguns, shotguns, and rifles of all capacities and actions). How will writing another law stop a psycopath? It was against the law for Lanza to kill his mother, steal her guns, take them onto a gun free campus, shoot them there, and murder people. How would adding another charge save a life? Would he have been able to kill just as many with a different weapon? VA Tech and Arizona used handguns only. Even a single shot break action shotgun could have created as great of a body count given the time he had and the defenselessness of his victims.

    January 9, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  19. Laurie in Spokane

    As usual some people are so reactionary on some gun control proposals. I don't think I've ever heard anyone suggest that all guns be banned, and all guns taken away from citizens. People who say that is in the works are in my humble opinion – whacko extremists, who I'm very wary of.

    WhatIS needed is to ban the sale of and possession of automatic guns/rifles, whatever, that can shoot 6 rounds a second and are ONLY SOLELY designed to kill people. Does law enforcement need them – YES, general populace – NO.

    January 9, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    sevenseas

    "Wrong. There is no strong push from the left to ban all guns. That's just hyperbole coming from gun lobbyists and the NRA. It's all part of the "slippery slope" argument that they love to make. "If you take this away, then they'll take everything away."" -Rudy NYC

    If this is true explain Iowa State Rep Dan Muhlbauer saying that semi autos should be banned and confiscated.
    ----------------–
    You're making the "slippery slope" argument. What is there to explain? Semi-automatic weapons should be tightly controlled because they are weapons of war and mass desruction. He didn't call for banning all guns, did he? You're making the "slippery slope" argument, which is simply delusional paranoia being fed to the public by gun makers.

    January 9, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  21. ThinkAgain: What is it about "well regulated" that you don't get?!?

    Closing the loophole that allows unlimited weapons purchase without a background check at a gun show and banning assault-style weapons will leave plenty of guns available for people to defend themselves and their property.

    And anyone incapable of letting go of their paranoid fear that if we do the above it will lead to the rise of tyranny gets their weapons immediately confiscated.

    January 9, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  22. Ancient Texan

    Denna- Yep Dems are getting America 'moving again'...straight off the cliff!

    January 9, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  23. Haze

    They cannot even keep assault-style weapons on the shelves right now. In America when something in demand is in short supply you know what happens next. Parts sales are going through the roof and people are building their own AR.

    January 9, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  24. Larry L

    @Ancient Texan

    The flurry of indignation over "assault rifles": merely semi automatics that have been around for many many decades and most farmboys grew up with, have been redesigned and made to have a military look by the manufacters and aside from the large clips, or magazines. The makers have hurt their own cause and will now bring on more un necessary controls. Hunting with a single shot weapon is going back in time a hundred years.
    =============================================================================================== Manufacturers will produce what people buy. The "flurry of indignation" from the far right wing about gun safety laws drove the demand. It has most definitely hurt the cause of those seeking weapons for legitimate uses in self-defense, hunting, target shooting and collection of firearms. Still, we can buy from a myriad of choices relatively inexpensive, five shot, bolt, slide or lever action weapons capable of MOA accuracy without modifications. We can have fun shooting semi-auto rim-fire weapons at a fraction of the cost of center-fire calibers and nobody seems to get excited. A little compromise will ultimately help preserve the world of shooting sports.

    January 9, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  25. N. S.

    We need mental health and background checks for all gun owners, as well as a ban on assault weapons, semi-autos, and large clips, all these re anti-personnel devises, nothing to do with hunting or target shooting.
    This is a start.
    We may not be able to prevent all gun violence, but we can reduce it, just as we can't stop all drunk driving and speedng, but we reduce it,
    The NRA is a manufacturers front, looking to sell more guns and ammo. Responsible gun owners – I am one – want no part of NRA, but it rallys the paranoid and conspiracy theory nuts.
    Guns in school does not work, the Columbine school had an armed cop, did no good,
    guns on the street don't work, at the Gifford shooting an armed bystander/ store owner almost shot the rescuer.
    And btw,"Arms", in the 2nd amendment, means swords, pikes, muzzle loaders, that is what "arms" meant when it was passed.

    January 9, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
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