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. BOb the Prairie Dog

    We've tried to have an honest, open debate about this issue for years. Blame the NRA and their shallow, bumper sticker dogma for the impending loss of our 2nd Amendment rights. They had ample time and resources to get in front of the debate, but instead chose to dumb down their rhetoric to the point of obsolescence. Now you will reap what you've sowed.

    January 9, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. UDidntBuildThat

    The Real Tom Paine-The murder rate went up after the gun ban for the City was overturned by the NRA in the SCOTUS. They don't have the gun ban that was working because of the NRA. Bet gun sales are booming in Chicago, though.
    _________________________________________________________________________
    Let's get the facts straight here. Chicago has had the highest murder rate in the country even b/4 SCOTUS overturn. The reason the gun ban was challenged b/c law abidng citizens were helpless to defend themselves fr the rampant gun violence and crimes in their city. Meaning the gun band was NOT WORKING in the first place. Emanuel passed more stricter gun control since SCOTUS's ruling and the crime rate continues to go up. Emanuel seems content that the average joe, that cannot afford armed body guards or send their kids to armed secured private schools (like Emanuel's kids and the rich kids in Chicago), be defensless & wait for cops to come while he walks around with tax-payer funded armed body guards.

    January 9, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. GuestAgain

    Create more government and regulation, kill more jobs, take more money from citizens, waste it and repeat!

    January 9, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. tony

    The idea of a gun as a defensive or successful at bringing down a mad shooter is ludicrous. You are only likely to hit an also armed target if you fire first, which makes you the aggressor. Drawing a weapon subsequently against a deranged shooter is only an option after he's already starting shooting innocent people. And you'd better be close enough to hit he/she to not hurt others or cause an ongoing gunfight. And then hope no one else with a gun thinks you're the bad guy and does the same to you.

    January 9, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. JMK

    Big surprise, a party leader voting as a block with his party. This isn't news.

    January 9, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  6. rs

    Tommy G-
    And the Right is doing what it always does with a tragedy:
    Blame the victims; use any excuse to make more money selling deadly weapons: and trying to scare people into somehow thinking this is about their rights rather than their responsibilities.

    January 9, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Tommy G wrote:

    New gun laws will do only one thing, make more criminals out of law abiding citizens exercising their Constitutional rights.
    --------------------
    That's hyperbolic nonsense. If they were law abiding citizens before any new laws, then they would still be law abiding citizens should any *common sense* laws be enacted.

    Prohibiting people without a gun license to operate certain types of weapons is common sense legislation. It may have stopped that mother from taking her kid to the firing range every day, teaching him how to use an assault rifle. Stopping the sale of higher capacity clips does not mean possessing them would be illegal. It would mean that you cannot buy them in the US anymore, just like Cuban cigars.

    January 9, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  8. Terry

    @Sniffit
    "You don't get to just invent an alternate reality to supplant the one the rest of us live in just because you don't happen to like it."

    -----------------------------------------------
    It is not an alternate reality. I have had the misfortune of having to lie face down on the floor of a restaurant with my family while it was being robbed by armed criminals. That was the longest two or three minutes of my life. I did not know if we were going live or die. I did know that there was virtually nothing I could do to protect my family. That will not happen again to me.

    If some lunatic walks into your business or home with a weapon, what are you going to do? Do you think Bloomberg or Biden are going to protect you? The police are five to ten minutes away, at best, maybe longer. It is a simple question.
    What would you do to protect yourself?

    January 9, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  9. Gurgyl

    Gun-lobby just shut up. This country needs GUN-CONTROL LAW. Do not find fault in English–you can not stand on the ground. Writer has four university diplomas. Do not be idiotic. Go for gun-control law. Enough killings.

    January 9, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Terry

    @tony

    "The idea of a gun as a defensive or successful at bringing down a mad shooter is ludicrous. You are only likely to hit an also armed target if you fire first, which makes you the aggressor. Drawing a weapon subsequently against a deranged shooter is only an option after he's already starting shooting innocent people. And you'd better be close enough to hit he/she to not hurt others or cause an ongoing gunfight. And then hope no one else with a gun thinks you're the bad guy and does the same to you."
    -----------------------------------------------–

    tony.
    Armed citizens stopping shooters happens frequently. You will newer hear the mainstream media report it, the story line does not their anti-gun agenda.

    January 9, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Don Macdonald

    Lay a gun down on the ground (ANY gun) and it will stay right there where you put it. Not only that but it won't go "bang".

    But put that gun in the hands of a person, and if he/she points it at somebody and pulls the trigger, then something happens. A gun is an inanimate tool, and requires input action from an operator,
    If he is a good guy, he may stop a crime, protect his family or accomplish some other good.
    If he is a bad guy, who knows what will happen.
    We have a people problem....NOT a Gun Problem

    January 9, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Terry wrote:

    It is not an alternate reality. I have had the misfortune of having to lie face down on the floor of a restaurant with my family while it was being robbed by armed criminals. That was the longest two or three minutes of my life. I did not know if we were going live or die. I did know that there was virtually nothing I could do to protect my family. That will not happen again to me.
    -------------–
    How unfortunate. You're lucky to have survived unharmed. Nothing happened to your family.

    You should be glad that you didn't get into a shoot out with them. Sounds like you were outmanuevered and outnumbered. Your people would have likely wound up dead had shooting started. Your customers would have sued you and put you out of business had you initiated the violence and one of them had gotten injured or killed.

    January 9, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "It is not an alternate reality."

    But it is. You claimed that your own personal experience and reaction to it must automatically be the exact same reaction that Newtown victims' families were having. It's not. Reports are that they're having the exact opposite reaction you've had and want something done about the proliferation of guns and gun culture. You're welcome to your own reaction, but assuming everyone else would automatically react the same way and then claiming that's the case is a bridge too far.

    January 9, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "We have a people problem....NOT a Gun Problem"

    Yeah, cut up those bath salts on a pocket mirror and they don't snort themselves. YAWN. Yes, we have a people problem...the problem being people with guns.

    January 9, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Terry wrote:

    If some lunatic walks into your business or home with a weapon, what are you going to do? Do you think Bloomberg or Biden are going to protect you? The police are five to ten minutes away, at best, maybe longer. It is a simple question.
    What would you do to protect yourself?
    ---------------
    I would probably do what you did. Lay down on the floor, do as I am told, and pray for it to be over without anyone getting hurt. Lives are too precious to throw away on the whim of a panicky burglar or robber. Most of the time, they have no desire to use their weapons but they will do so when forced to...and they will kill anyone who could be a witness.

    January 9, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. rs

    Don Macdonald-
    All true. Except for the omission that a gun has but ONE purpose- to kill. Because of that, and because too many guns have left the ownership of "good" gun owners to "bad" ones, it is now utterly clear, that guns, gun ownership,gun manufacture and ammunition MUST be regulated.

    January 9, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  17. Runsw/elk

    I own a leaver action Winchester mod 94 rifle chambered in 44 Rem. Mag. pretty much a cowboy rifle it hold 9 rounds and one in the chamber, total of ten. It can be reloaded very quickly. I also own a 3/4 ton dodge pickup truck. With ether of these a person could kill and injure dozens people in short order. So someone please tell me, just where will gun control stop.

    January 9, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. v_mag

    Don Macdonald said, "A gun is an inanimate tool, and requires input action from an operator". And, "We have a people problem....NOT a Gun Problem."
    -–
    I can't think of a way to rid the world of crazy people. However, other countries have demonstrated that they can get rid of the tools of murder that you love so. Let's get rid of the means of destruction instead of waiting till the last minute and trying to stop a madman with an AR-15.

    January 9, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  19. David

    Don't see why groups like the NRA aren't seeing this as an opportunity to create clear common sense guidelines that will ensure protections in the future. Special licenses for some weapons and ammunition and technology requirements (like fingerprint readers) for some weapons will ensure that generally all have access to basic firearms and responsible collectors, etc. have access to more militarily capable firearms.

    January 9, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  20. Fair is Fair

    Gurgyl

    Gun-lobby just shut up. This country needs GUN-CONTROL LAW. Do not find fault in English–you can not stand on the ground. Writer has four university diplomas. Do not be idiotic. Go for gun-control law. Enough killings.
    -------
    Four – count them – FOUR university diplomas. And nary the ability to write cohesive English.

    January 9, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  21. Paul

    Hey Rudy, who wrote:

    "How unfortunate. You're lucky to have survived unharmed. Nothing happened to your family. You should be glad that you didn't get into a shoot out with them. Sounds like you were outmanuevered and outnumbered."

    Listen up, buddy...not everybody is a sheep. Just because YOU would have been unwilling to protect yourself or your family and willing to put your very lives in the hands of criminals doesn't mean other people should. Not everybody is unwilling to protect their family, Rudy.

    January 9, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  22. Paul

    "Except for the omission that a gun has but ONE purpose- to kill."

    Seriously? So shooting sports, target shooting, etc. are out? Have you ever done anything with guns other than be terrified of them?

    January 9, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  23. Paul

    Good job, Harry. You narrowly won reelection last time...this should pretty much do it for you. Nighty night.

    January 9, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  24. v_mag

    Paul said, " Have you ever done anything with guns other than be terrified of them?"
    ----–
    Shoe on the wrong foot here, Paulie. The chicken crap cowards are the NRA and other paranoid idiots who dream of being Rambo. It is characteristic of a coward to be bellicose and armed to the teeth, like that notorious draft dodger Dick Cheney. It's blatant over-compensation for a small weenie.

    People like myself who have been in the military and seen the effects of war know a coward when we see one. Pointing a gun and shooting someone is not as easy as it sounds, especially when that person is also armed.

    January 9, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Sniffit

    "We have a people problem....NOT a Gun Problem"

    Yeah, cut up those bath salts on a pocket mirror and they don't snort themselves. YAWN. Yes, we have a people problem...the problem being people with guns.
    ---------
    We do have a "people problem". More accurately it is a "some gun owners" problem. We need to legislate some responsibility and liability into owning firearms. Making it illegal for someone without a gun permit to operate an assault rifle may have made a difference. Making it illegal to take mental patients to rifle ranges may have made a difference.

    There's a lot that could be put in place, NRA be damned. My solution to people who want their kids educated in armed bunkers is simple: home schooling.

    January 9, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
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