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. judy

    If the shooting of 26 people 20 of whom where small children does not give you pause then there is something seriously wrong with you. I have heard no government agency stating that they will take away anyone's guns. This tired old paranoia has been around since the inception of the NRA. Discussions are needed and people with cool heads should be doing it not some nut job ranting on a talk show.

    January 9, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. Lee


    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.

    Wow REALLY?? Out of what I said in the post you pull 7 words out and get that?? Very creative. However 98% of what you posted is horse flop.
    The items you listed are not legal for public consumption and are banned correct?? Yet people (criminals) with little regard for the law or bans will get do what is necessary to obtain their illegal contraband.

    January 9, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. RC

    Reid will go whichever way the wind is blowing although, for however long it lasts, I'm glad to see he's going in the right direction on this issue. Nevertheless,it's time to put him in the home and let Dick Durbin be majority leader.

    January 9, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. Finally

    Good. Sen Reid is becoming sensible on this issue – as are most Americans. No one wants to take guns away from legal owners – only ensure that buyers are checked thoroughly before they can obtain a weapon, that ridiculously powerful weapons are not on the streets, and that guns are registered. It's the least a civilized nation can do. It's time we stood up to the NRA. They wrap themselves in the cloak of the constitution – but they're all about the $$$. They are willing to imperil our children for $$$. Time to take a stand and take our country back from the lobbyists and the loonies.

    January 9, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  5. Malory Archer

    GuestAgain posted on another message thread that was shut down after just a few posts:

    Actually Rudy, the media has led you to believe that legal gun owners are commtting most crimes when in fact it is the gangs of thugs, drug dealers, illegals, low life hoodlums who dont care about laws and get their weapons illegally. But it evidently too difficult to stop these criminals so it is more politcally palatable to attack our rights as law abiding citizens.
    Call 911 and see how long it takes for a cop to show up, if the intruder is armed you'll be dead long before they arrive.


    The issue is about assault weapons capable of firing off 350 rounds in one minute's time, not handguns. However, since you brought it up how were those gangs of thugs, drug dealers, illegals, low life hoodlums who dont care about laws able to illegally obtain those weapons? If the LEGAL owners had been responsible with their weapons in the first place the bad guys wouldn't have been able to access them – leagally or otherwise!

    My husband and I own rifles for hunting and small yet powerful handguns for protection. He's retired military and sees on logic in allowing private civilians access to those types of weapons. If I'm ever forced to defend myself, the person from whom I'm defending myself is going to be just as dead from my handgun as they would be from an assault weapon – and the mess I'll have to clean up afterwards won't be as big.

    January 9, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  6. Roger

    One of the few bright spots in the Obama economy is gun and ammo sales.

    January 9, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  7. rs

    As long as Reid isn't with the GOP gun-sellers club. The NRA has NO credibility as long as they promote selling guns and ammo for an industry whose only purpose is to kill.

    January 9, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  8. mcc

    If Reid goes for the gun registration reporting, etc – it will be the signal that he no longer plans to run for Senate in the next election... The mob that owns him in his state does not want to be on reports...

    January 9, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  9. against all guns

    Shame on you harry reid. you showed your boss is Lapier not the people of this country who are being slaughter by guns.

    January 9, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  10. Fed Up

    *sigh* people who think semi-autos should be "banned" have no idea what that means. Look up the stats – the VAST majority of arms sold and owned in this country ARE "semi auto" but that doesn't mean they are "assault rifles". So when you say "ban semi-auto" you ARE trying to take a LOT of guns – a lot more than you realize. Very very few are single action anymore. And why would they be? If I am up against an armed intruder, or a grizzly bear, I dont want to have to stop and reload. The point of the 2nd amendment was to make sure the PEOPLE could over throw their gov't if they had to. The people had single shot, and so did the military. Not so much anymore. Fully Auto is what the military has, and guess what, those are already illegal to the public unless bought before that ban. Read history – registration of arms has led to confiscation and death of owners time after time after time. Germany/Austria, China. And yet – murders still happened there.

    January 9, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  11. v_mag

    The right wing was all gung-ho to go to war with Iraq over mythical weapons of mass destruction. But when it comes to weapons of mass murder in the U.S., they are dead-set against any reasonable remedy. Just like they are all for law and order when it comes to poor minority people caught with drugs, but totally against laws designed to protect innocent people from nuts with assault weapons.

    I own a shotgun. I use it to protect my livestock and my home. It's sufficient for my needs, until some nut with an AR-15 shows up. I want laws to get rid of assault weapons so that my shotgun will always be sufficient.

    Think Australians are wimps? Most people don't. And Australia has vastly decreased its gun violence since enacting tough laws in 1996. The new laws prohibited all automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and imposed strict licensing rules. Even paintball guns need a permit. There are also background checks and lengthy waiting periods for all purchases. However, there are apparently too many cowards in the U.S. to follow their example.

    January 9, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  12. DC Johnny

    Limiting the size of magazines, the legal availability of assault weapons, and the registration of legal gun owners would have no bearing on this or any other tragedy – past or present – that has or will occur.

    Evil people do evil things. To run to the legislature and shred the Constitution over an emotional response has unintended consequences. There are reasons for the 2nd Amendment, and it is growing ever clearer that the majority of Liberals (unsurprisingly) have no concept of why.

    It is sad that America has come to this, where the minority has to stand ground for the rights and liberty of the majority. It shouldn't surprise me, though, as fairly soon the majority will be completely supported by the tax revenues of the minority.

    January 9, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  13. 2km N of GZero

    It's not legal to own a bazooka. It's not legal to own a heavy machine gun. It shouldn't be illegal for farmers and hunters to own a bolt-action rifle or a double-barrelled shotgun. Say what you will about the Second Amendment, we have to agree to a boundary somewhere in there, and we have to balance and accommodate the right of self-defense against the reality that more guns means more death.

    January 9, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. GuestAgain

    There arent any legally available weapons that will fire 350 rounds in a minute as it is. Does your husband know you're a liberal?? They generally spit in the face of those of us that have served our nation and have the extreme ideas that you read about here on a daily basis. Now that is what is wrong with our nation. All the kings fools.

    January 9, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. Rudy NYC

    GuestAgain asked:

    Call 911 and see how long it takes for a cop to show up, if the intruder is armed you'll be dead long before they arrive.
    How many incidents of home invasions have you heard about? How many of them have been in your area? How many of those invasions did not involve some sort of criminal activity by the residents of that home?

    If someone invaded your home, odds are you will not be able to access your gun. Not unless you carry it around everywhere you go in your home, and if you do that then you need a mental checkup.

    Home invasions usually occur close to areas with traffic volume so that the invaders can get lost in the crowd. Only a fool would try it in a remote location by himself because it would be too hard to escape to parts unknown. A limited number of roads means a limited number of escape routes. It would take a team of invaders to pull it off, and you would be woefully outnumbered. But, like I said at the start.

    Home invasions are actually a rare occurrence. When they do occur it is usually for a good reason, not some random choice.

    January 9, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  16. robert

    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,”

    WOW, Those dirty rotten sneaky polititians hiding a pro 2A provision in a bill. So obviously worded to hide it's true intentions with clever subterfuge! I mean, if you didn't even read it you would have no idea what it was!!! Yeah, it's called an "earmark". Name one bill in the history of bills that has ever passed in it's entirety without an earmark? Okay, maybe there's an off chance there are a handful out there but earmarking bills like this is NOTHING NEW or out of the ordinary.

    January 9, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  17. Sup

    So if people "don't feel safer having a security guard" at schools, maybe those same people should ponder whether the president should lead by example and disarm his body guards and secret service guards. Maybe people need to understand that there are psychos out there willing to harm the innocent. The psychos will bypass any gun laws (actually they already break the existing gun laws) to achieve their goal of murder. Adding another law will stop killers? Please. The answer is not making 90 million gun owners criminals by passing more laws that killers can and will not follow. An emotional response of "take away all guns" is unrealistic and doesn't work. Google "why gun control doesn't work."

    January 9, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  18. Jeff from Columbus

    Reid benefitted politically for years from supporting gun rights. Now that it appears public opinion has swung towards stricter gun control laws, Reid is "in a different place".

    Typical, lying politician. He'll do anything and say anything. The man has no core values other than getting himself re-elected.

    January 9, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. Anonymous

    They don't care about you, me, or any one else whether it is man, woman, or a child. All they care are money. If you and them really care about the lives of the people then let's not control guns alone but include busses, minivans, trains, airplan, alchols, tobaccos, etc... because those products are also kill people. A recent FBI report shows that hammer was used for murder (caused more death) more than rifle but you NEVER try to control hammer. why? money. No money to be made in banning hammer.

    January 9, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. jrl1234

    12,664 murders in 2011 as reported by the “FBI Crime in the U.S (table 20)” found at FBI dot gov

    32 % of those were non-gun murders (knives, hands, poison, etc)
    13.4% of those were committed with “knives or cutting instruments”
    2.5% of those were committed with rifles an even smaller number would be “Assault rifles”
    2.8% of those were committed with shot guns

    The stats do not support a strong case for assault weapons ban when you are 6 times more likely to stabbed to death than killed with a rifle.

    January 9, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. ObamBam

    Wow! Reading an article like this makes me pray for civil war.

    January 9, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. gutterboy

    We don't allow RPGs to be purchased. I'm kind of thinking that there are no RPG deaths on the USA homeland?

    January 9, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. CentralBanks

    “If my sons did not want wars, there would be none.” Gutle Schnaper Rothschild

    January 9, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    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.
    They have this thing called bowhunting, which requires real skill. Using a bolt-action rifle requires skill. Using a black-powder weapon requires skill. I have heard from every hunter worth his/her salt that its not about riddling an animal with holes that makes hunting enjoyable: its being outside, enjoying the camraderie, etc, something I completely understand. Adding large clips and magazines does nothing except give weak minded and lazy people a sense of power, and serves to blur the idea that owning a firearm is a responsibility. Its not a toy. Its not like playing " Call of Duty". Its the power of life and death, and some people are simply not equipped to deal with that.

    January 9, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  25. J

    Gun control isnt the problem. We need to be looking at how we can fix the disparate state of our nations mental health care system.
    Gun control is getting all the attention in the media because it is more dramatic, and draws more ratings.

    January 9, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
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