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. Fair is Fair

    Rudy says:

    "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."
    --------
    My .38 revolver is a semi-automatic. My 9mm Glock with a 10-round magazine is a semi-automatic. Are you saying these handguns are "weapons of war and mas desruction" [sic] or do you really not know what the definition of a semi-automatic is?

    January 9, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. IMeanReally

    Reid is flip-flopping? Really? You can sure bet that if a conservative changed his mind the left leaners would be screaming to high heaven. Fun how that is. Naw...maybe not.

    January 9, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  3. Larry L

    @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.
    ================================================================================================
    You are quite unlikely to be killed by anthrax spores. Should we all be allowed to keep a stash around "just in case'?

    January 9, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  4. american

    We slowly lose our rights with every stroke of a politicians pen..how sad

    January 9, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. Ancient Texan

    N.S. -I'd wager that NRA membership is going up almost as fast as gun ownership. The general public has become far more prone to become gun owners ever since Obama has come on the scene. Just saying.....

    January 9, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  6. GuestAgain

    Wanted: EXTREME LIBERAL VIEW POINTS ONLY. Everyone else is just right...in more ways than one!

    January 9, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  7. scarf

    Perhaps we should put a $100 tax on each bullet. That way, only the 1% could afford to commit massacres.

    January 9, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    @ Larry L

    "You are quite unlikely to be killed by anthrax spores. Should we all be allowed to keep a stash around "just in case'?"
    -------
    Come on, Larry... that really is a false equivalence.

    January 9, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  9. Stephen Falk

    The amount of paranoia in your country is truly astonishing.
    In the 21st century , do you REALLY think
    Your government would be stupid enough To
    Strip away your second amennant rights?

    January 9, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  10. J Russ

    what laws – short of confiscation of all legally purchased weapons – would have prevented Newtown?

    January 9, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  11. Bob

    Reid is one of the reasons that I'm still a Democrat. He has been a champion for sanity within the Democratic party when it comes to gun safety and preserving gun rights. I hope he will firmly resist any notion of an AW ban.

    January 9, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. Malory Archer

    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.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    My mistake – I meant MINUTE, not second. My husband's 24 years of service have made him liberal. In fact he tells me all the time I'm not as liberal as I like to think I am. As for liberals "spit(ing) in the face of those of us that have served our nation", what a childish rant and indicative of someone who has never served or been close to someone who did. If you had ever done either you would come to realize that the vast majority of military personnel aren't foaming at the mouth like rabid dogs, with the extreme ideas that you read about here on a daily basis. You and your ilk are what's wrong with our nation. Fool.

    January 9, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    My .38 revolver is a semi-automatic. My 9mm Glock with a 10-round magazine is a semi-automatic. Are you saying these handguns are "weapons of war and mas desruction" [sic] or do you really not know what the definition of a semi-automatic is?
    -------------–
    You're taking the remark out of the original context of semi-automatic assault rifles. Nice try, though.

    January 9, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. kandy321

    He can change his tune and he can be out of a job.

    January 9, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. JGW

    NRA always uses the car analogy because cars kill. I would like to see guns regulated like cars. Each gun make and model needs to be registered to a specific owner on a yearly basis. Anytime the gun changes possession it has to be reregistered. The owner is responsible for any damage caused by his registered gun. Each gun needs to have insurance. The free market will dictate the cost of insurance. If insurance is cancelled then the insurance company notifies the registration office. Then toughen the laws with regards to carrying or using an unregistered gun.

    January 9, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. GuestAgain

    Then obviously both you and he are both confused about the principles in the constitution he swore to defend, particvularly in the face of those rights being questioned by your democratic leaders. FYI, I said "those of us that have served..."

    January 9, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  17. GuestAgain

    So he was in the air force then???

    January 9, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. Malory Archer

    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.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Your numbers only account for 50% of the murders committed in the U.S. and don't include deaths attributed to assault weapons. You failed to account for half of the stats. What about the other 50% who were murdered – what was the weapon of choice?

    January 9, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. Malory Archer

    J Russ

    what laws – short of confiscation of all legally purchased weapons – would have prevented Newtown?

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    None. However, there are other precautions that could be put into place: Install metal detectors at all entrances to schools, and locking mechanisms on all classroom doors so that they can't be opened from the outside without a key.

    January 9, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  20. James Brown

    Harry Reid is SENILE! He talks to his pomagranate trees (he proudly declared this on the floor of the Senate last year)! Why is this lunatic still a "leader"? And why is the Commie New Network (CNN) stills blathering about anything this bozo does?

    January 9, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  21. GuestAgain

    Thank you Mallory, now you're making sense! Security issues can be resolved without trampling our rights as citizens.

    January 9, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. Frederick L. May Sr

    January 9, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |

    jrl1234,
    Your stats may be right but 28 people were killed in one incident with an assualt weapon. Assualt weapons do not belong in the general population. They are for military use only. Don't you get it? No one wants to unarm the people they just want to get the assault weapons out of the hands of the publc. Its just that simple.

    January 9, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  23. Malory Archer

    GuestAgain

    So he was in the air force then???

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Nope!

    January 9, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  24. JGW

    Nothing would have prevented Newton short of a complete ban on guns but there would be far fewer casualties if he did not have ansemi-automatic assualt rifle and high capacity clips where many student/staff were hit by multiiple bullets in a matter of seconds. As long as there are guns you are not going to prevent gun violence but you can limit the killing power for these mass murders.

    January 9, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  25. Malory Archer

    GuestAgain

    Then obviously both you and he are both confused about the principles in the constitution he swore to defend, particvularly in the face of those rights being questioned by your democratic leaders

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    We could go back and forth all day but I learned long ago that you can't argue with an obtuse individual. You're not worth my time, but thanks for playing.

    January 9, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
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