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. LIP

    Mallory should throw in the number of people/kids killed by motor vehicles...the numbers are staggering and lo and behold, we still have cars and no one is saying we should ban them. Some wacko dresses himself up like a robo cop or some dude in an X box game and goes ballistic and now we can't have our guns....really? Let's go after those people making all those violent movies and producing all those violent games that our kids sit in front of all night with no adult supervision instead....they are the real culprits here and because they provide so many jobs and money to the economy, they are untouchable and the violence will continue to get worse until we as adults put a stop to it.

    January 9, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. Ferret out the BS

    California instituted the Firearms Law of 2007 which could be used as a template. In California the overall trend on gun related homicides is down from the years 1998 to 2011. Although for children it seems to be rising. Whether this is due to restrictions on high capacity magazines and assualt style weapons can't be determined from the statistical evidence I looked at: "Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008; Annual Rates for 2009 and 2010".

    However the law is very explicit on the weapons that are restricted here and yet we still have gun shows, shooting ranges, hunting, collecting, and personal ownership. There are buy backs which, just last week in LA, a grenade launcher was turned in. What I'm getting at is that firearm restrictions and reasonable laws can benefit all citizens including gun owners and doesn't lead to government takeovers or storm troopers breaking into your house without just cause and a warrant as long as you are a responsible law abiding citizen. Please let's be responsible and find a way to make this country safer for everyone and resonable restrictions are a way to accomplish this.

    January 9, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Malory Archer wrote:

    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.
    The guy at Sandy Hook used an AR-15 to gain entrance. There also public safety issues with installing system like that. Emergency evacuations in the event of a fire would require that locking system to be automatically overidden. That's why they keep manual pull stations out of the reach of the inmates in prisons.

    January 9, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. Rick CT

    Harry Reid....demonstrating again why he is everything that is worng with our government. BTW @jr1234, your statistics of nearly 10,000 gun murders of any type vs. 35 in the UK and about 40 in Japan, support a total gun ban. Seems to work elsewhere. That being unacceptable, I'm sure, let's go back to the weapons available at the time the 2nd amendment was written. You can have a musket with a 4ft barrel that was highly inaccurate and shot only once before needing 30-60 seconds to reload. I doubt the founding fathers envisioned the general public owning weapons that could take out dozens of people in mere seconds.

    January 9, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  5. Term Limits 42

    Let's see where this goes:
    If you have ever been convicted, or pleaded Nolo to a DUI you are a danger to society behind the wheel or behind a gun. Your license is permanently revoked and you are on the gun ownership black list. No gun for you!
    If you have ever been convicted or pled Nolo, or paid a fine for possession or any use of a federally mandated "illega drug " or "controlled substance" no gun for you!
    If you have been convicted or pled Nolo to any form of violence, no gun for you!
    If you are a member of a militant group, club, or association, no gun for you!
    If you are a member of an activist group, union, or other such organization whose members threaten or use violence or hate speech no gun for you!
    If you are a disgruntled employee who lost the job for "cause" of any job that involves use of guns, no gun for you!
    If you are military suffering from or suspected to have PTSD, no gun for you!
    If you are military or a contractor that has served in the battlefield and killed the enemy, you have a 1 year wait period after returning before you can have a gun. Then you have to have mental evaluation and drug tests.
    If you are a member of a church or any religion, including atheism, with extremist views against gays,mother government,mor people of any other religion, no gun for you.
    If you speak or post hate speech or racism in any form or forum, including reverse racismin any forum, no gun for you!
    If you have a political and public stance on abortion, no gun for you.
    If you have ever spoken, written, or communicated any negative comments about our elected officials, past or present, no gun for you!
    I think that just about leaves newborns and federal government sanctioned entities who pass a mental and drug screening, background check of their entire life based on the above, as the only authorized owners of guns.

    Some will like this. Other know that when the only people who own guns are the government and criminals, the rest of us are screwed.

    January 9, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. Malory Archer


    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.


    Your post makes no sense. Or you didn't read the article. Copied directly from above: Reid slipped a provision into the 2010 national health care law that restricts the government from collecting data on gun ownership.... 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.


    He was against gun legislation and now he is for it. If a conservative changed his mind the RIGHT leaners would be screaming to high heaven while the left congratulated him for finally coming to his senses.

    January 9, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. Rick CT

    Can you imagine the uproar if Beohner did something similar? The Dem "sources" explanation is beyond lame.

    January 9, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. Malory Archer


    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.


    Excellent analogy, so be prepared to be eviscerated!

    January 9, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    JGW wrote:

    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. ...
    I disagree. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Stricter laws regarding the use and storage of certain types of weapons could have prevented the tragedy. There is no law against allowing someone without a gun permit to operate a gun, or even an assault rifle. The mother made all of the wrong choices, most especially taking her son to the rifle range once a week, but still she broke no laws.

    January 9, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. Rick CT

    @JGW. You have the answer. Works in England and Japan among other places. Only 7 more gun deaths in England in all of 2012 than in a few short minutes in Newtown.

    January 9, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. Pritka

    Americans always react with knee jerk ideas about prevention when a horrible tragedy occurs. I am a gun owner and have been for 40 years. I am not an NRA member and resent their massive influence on politics. I think we need to protect students in schools but I don't see more guns as a solution. I am interested in common sense ways to protect students and faculty in our public schools. Walk thru metal detectors, cameras and intercoms within a secure area before human contact at a schools main entrance, a receptionist trained to watch the procedure on camera before allowing entrance. Then you also have the problem of huge schools with busy public areas that need to be controlled. We need to look closely and carefully at solutions and tailor them to different situations.

    January 9, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. calamity jane

    I have an honest question and let me explain first my perspective. My husband owns a couple guns. I am quite uncomfortable around guns just because I feel they give me more power than I care to have. However, I am finding it more necessary to get over that in order to learn how to operate one comfortably. Because if someone were threatening me or my family, you better believe that I would take the force necessary to disable them or send them to their maker. That is without question. The only thing that I have an issue with are these so-called military assault weapons. I mean, I have not yet heard a good reason why we should have them – other than "because it's our right". It is also our right to operate an automobile (with a license), but that doesn't give us the right to drive an Army tank to work everyday either. I'm not trying to be facetious but am trying to draw a comparison. Obviously, no one is going to acquire an Army tank but if you could, would you also assert your right to drive one to work? Even if other people on the road found it to be overkill and dangerous? So, please someone explain to me logically why we should not ban military assault weapons. Not "just because". Thank you.

    January 9, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  13. Rob Lowry

    Frederick L. May Sr. ...
    The rifle used in Newton (and Aurora, and pretty much all other mass shootings) are not 'military weapons'. A real military weapon fires Automatic or Bust ... not Semi Auto. The rifles do resemble their military grade counterparts, but are not in fact a military grade weapon.

    Malory Archer ...
    There are very good stats on the CDC.gov website regarding causes of death and break them down in many different ways. Guns are responsible for just under 70% of all homicides according to that website. It's pretty obvious that firearms are the leading tool used in murder.

    Also interesting however, is that there are about 2.5x more suicides than murders in the US and about 1.8x more alcohol related deaths, almost 3x as many drug overdoses and nearly more than 2x the number of vehicle caused deaths. When looking at the leading causes of death in the US it seems the current debate is being overblown.

    My statements however should not be taken in anyway to diminish the trajedy (ies) we've witnessed in past months. There are things that need to change, and as long as we maintain reasonable and informed dialog we will create a better society. Listening to whackos like Alex Jones or Senator Feinstein will get us nowhere.

    January 9, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. v_mag

    No one can seriously believe that the Newtown shooter would have killed as many children if he had been packing a revolver instead.

    But there is another point people are missing. He might never have even tried if a 6-shooter was all he had access to. These guys want to do something massively destructive, and they obtain the most destructive guns available. If he hadn't been able to get an AR-15, he might have just killed himself and saved the world a lot of grief.

    And another point the right wingers don't address: They are trying to solve the problem by dealing with the symptoms, not by getting to its root. They want to wait until you have a gun-toting crazy in the school, firing the shots, before doing anything about it. The root of the problem may be addressed by putting all automatic weapons in the crusher, as they have in Australia.

    January 9, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  15. Wake up People!

    @Mallory Archer. Your last comment reminds me of something a wise woman once told me. Never get into a war of wits with an unarmed person.

    January 9, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  16. rs

    Term Limits 42-
    Using your list, people who belong to the NRA shouldn't have guns....

    January 9, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. Sniffit

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

    And the gun nuts are in a different place than the reality the rest of us occupy.

    January 9, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. Jay D

    One has to wonder how so many weapons "millions" end up in the hands of criminals. The trail probably starts with all the so called "responsible gun owners". Passed on through private sales from gun owners who want to upgrade their arsenal. Of course, they don't want to close the loophole or regulate private sales. That would cost the gun owners and the industry money by reducing sales. Who says you are responsible? You? The mother of the child killer probably thought she was right up to the point she was murdered. Its a convienent excuse to throw up your hands and say we can't stop criminals. Works great for the gun industry and NRA. Keep selling guns on the idea the criminals will always have them. How about god guys taking away the bad guys gun so you really have the advantage. Best way, but not perfect, regulate with license requirements, continuing education and insurance if you carry. License to make ammunition. That way the costs stay with those that want to have weapons that kill easily. Evaluate mental health and armed guards? Funny how so many gun owners vote for smaller government but are all for the public paying so they can keep their guns unregulated.

    January 9, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "should throw in the number of people/kids killed by motor vehicles...the numbers are staggering and lo and behold, we still have cars and no one is saying we should ban them. "

    We regulate cars more than we regulate guns. Just go ahead and sit down in a room full of gun nuts and suggest a national "Registry of Gun Ownership" where all owners must resiter their guns and all transactions involving sale of the guns must be recorded...and see what kind of temper tantrum that earns you.

    January 9, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  20. Donna

    Liberals and their LSM lackeys have failed to point out that Conn. essentially HAS an assault weapons ban. Did it stop this from occurring? Of course not. ANd neither will 10,000 more gun laws. You see, criminals and insane people don't care about laws or how many they are breaking. Liberals think they can fix all of lifes problems if they just had enough laws and money.

    January 9, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  21. rs

    The Right-wingers and the NRA are delusionally denying that gun controls, in fact, do work. Witness Australia.
    No one needs an automatic, or a semi-automaticweapon- much less multiple copies.
    Register guns
    Inventory guns
    Mndate insurance
    Require gun-owner licensing
    Tax, tax, tax.

    January 9, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. manhandler1

    What a disgrace. Fearing this evil gun organization might be against our health care law? What in God's name is going on? Why are our slimy politicians letting these nasty people have any influence at all over ANYTHING that has to do with our healthcare or any other thing that doesn't have to do with guns.

    January 9, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  23. just sayin

    obama lied yet again. he and the democrats are coming for your guns america.

    January 9, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. rs

    Jay D-
    Don't forget problem states like Arizona, where homeless people are used for front purchases for cartels and criminals. There must be real-live accounting of weapons and buyers. That is what "Fast and Furious" was attempting to track. Gun Show sales must be either halted, or brought up to federal background specs.

    January 9, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "insurance if you carry"

    Find me an insurer who would actually be willing to create such a product. We have an insurance industry that considers babies born with a defect "uninsurable." You think they're going to insure gun ownership for various liabilities...things like "oh, my curious son went in the closet and busted into my gun locker and shot off his friend's face while goofing around...please pay the family the wrongful death damages!" Not a chance. UNINSURABLE. What does that tell you?

    January 9, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
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