NRA president: Harry Reid 'under incredible pressure'
January 31st, 2013
12:52 PM ET
2 years ago

NRA president: Harry Reid 'under incredible pressure'

Washington (CNN) - National Rifle Association President David Keene signaled Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat who has enjoyed the powerful gun lobby's support in the past, could prove pivotal in the heated debate over gun control.

Reid has found himself in a delicate position as he tries to navigate the desires of many members of his pro-gun rights Nevada constituency and the White House and members of his caucus' intensified push over gun control. As Senate majority leader, Reid has great influence to speed or slow the consideration of legislation on Capitol Hill.

"He's under incredible pressure right now because he's got, as any member of Congress or senator does, he's got his own beliefs. He's got the views and the demands of his constituents on the one hand and the pressure he faces from party leaders and his president on the other," Keene told journalists at a Christian Science Monitor sponsored breakfast Thursday. "So where Harry Reid ends up in this debate is anybody's guess and I think that's one of the guessing games that's going on around Washington now."

Reid has twice opposed the assault weapons ban back in 1992 and 2004, has a B rating by the NRA for his pro-gun rights voting record and since 2008 has received just shy of $8,450 from several gun lobbies according to an analysis of campaign contributions from the Center for Responsive Politics.

The NRA has also previously supported Reid in his primary races, but Keene said he has not spoken personally with Reid about the recent back and forth over gun control legislation.

The nation's top Democrat in Congress has faced scrutiny in recent weeks for his close ties with the National Rifle Association. Reid slipped a provision into the 2010 national health care law that restricts the government from collecting data on gun ownership, as reported by CNN's National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta.

On the other side of the debate, fellow Democrats including a group led by California's Dianne Feinstein, proposing a ban on semi-automatic rifles and ammunition magazines exceeding 10 rounds, argue that restricting access to such firepower and expanding background checks to as many gun sales as possible will help.

Reid has not said how he would vote on that measure but would work to ensure a variety of gun control legislation is brought to the floor of the full Senate for consideration.

"…We're going to have votes on all kinds of issues dealing with guns and I think everyone would be well-advised to read the legislation before they determine how they're going to vote for it," Reid told reporters this week.

Keene's comments follow Wednesday's congressional hearing in which National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre blamed the government for failing to enforce existing gun laws and said new restrictions, including background checks, won't stop criminals from using weapons in violent crime.

"Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals, nor do we believe that government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families," Pierre said.

The first congressional hearing since last month's Newtown, Connecticut school massacre hearing was also marked by the appearance of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head by a gunman at a political event two years ago.

"Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something," Giffords said in a rare public appearance Wednesday, reading a statement that acknowledged her injuries made it difficult to speak. "It will be hard, but the time is now," she told the packed hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Keene said his group has reason to believe otherwise.

"I think that our opponents' hope (has changed)," Keene said. "They hope that they can use emotion to achieve an anti-firearms agenda that they haven't been able to achieve in the past. But my suspicion ... (is that) people are smarter than politicians and that common sense ultimately prevails. I am convinced that as these things are discussed, that we're going to come out about where we have come out in the past."

– CNN's Jim Acosta, Dana Bash and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.


Filed under: Harry Reid • NRA
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Lynda/Minnesota

    Surely this is one of the most unhappy looking men to grace CNNs ticker?

    "Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals, nor do we believe that government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families," Pierre said."

    I beg to differ. Law abiding gun owners ought to accept partial blame. At least those owners who sell their guns and ammo to violent or deranged criminals out of the back seat of their cars while visiting their local WalMart (or equivalent) parking lots.

    I imagine this is a more common occurrence then Mr. LaPierre or Mr. UnHappyFace will ever admit happens.

    January 31, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "They hope that they can use emotion to achieve an anti-firearms agenda that they haven't been able to achieve in the past. "

    Translation: "We'll win, because money is more powerful than common sense."

    January 31, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    The NRA position is too extreme for most people. Polls show 90% of people want to close the gun show loop hole, and the NRA is staunchly opposed to the idea. They would rather defend their idea that background checks would hurt law abiding citizens, rather than acknowledging that their stance makes it easier law breaking citizens to obtains weapons of mass destruction and mayhem.

    January 31, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  4. Name lynn

    reed dont have pressure, what kind of pressure does he have that he doesnt already have. The NRA cannot stop the people from getting guns in their hands, now what is really the problem.

    January 31, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    ""Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals, nor do we believe that government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families," Pierre said.""

    They are only "law abiding" because our laws are broken. Obeying broken, insufficient laws that are full of loopholes and lobbied-for special exceptions, laws that fail in even the most basic manner to create a comprehensive statutory and regulatory framework for addressing the issues...that doesn't absolve you from acting in a manner that was still reckless, negligent, abhorrent and disregards the safety of others...nor does it absolve you from supporting continuation of the deficiencies in said laws.

    Just because your actions were legal doesn't make them right.

    January 31, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  6. Emma in Baltimore

    "Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals, nor do we believe that government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families," Pierre said.

    As long as our system allows such acts to occur, we are all to blame - we are all responsible.

    January 31, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. Bob

    The NRA has blood on it's hands.

    January 31, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  8. DOG1

    Why is it the NRA is so violently opposed to the CDC research on the results of gun violence? They even steamrolled through ( or bought the congresswhores to do it for them) legislation preventing the gathering any data on gun violence. What is it that they're afraid might be revealed? The also have made sure that records of gun ownership are virtually unusable by law enforcement. You see the cop shows on TV where they track the ownership record of a gun on the computer in a matter of minutes, well that's nowhere near the truth. The NRA has made sure that is impossible. For some reason all their "law abiding gun owners" are deathly afraid that law enforcement will be able to determine how a criminal got a gun. If they are so "law abiding" why are they concerned. They're always trying to shift the focus with that "the criminals will get the guns illegally if they want" line, well NRA explain just how they're doing that if the guns were sold legally to begin with. Oh yeah, the records that would have told us that are totally useless because of your efforts. WHY IS THAT?

    January 31, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Reid is an Obama puppet, who will do precisely whatever Obama has asked him to do, with not a single variation.

    January 31, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  10. T

    ......I am starting to believe, that GUN CONTROL of some type would have EASILY PASSED BOTH HOUSE AND SENATE.................IF instead of those poor kids and teachers shot and KILLED BY A CRAZED GUNMAN.........if they were DOGS,....people would grab these GUN NUTZ WEAPONS and throw them in a furnace............

    January 31, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. Boo

    All lobbyists should be done away with. They are nothing but glorified pimps. Our government is supposed to represent ALL OF US not organizations like the NRA that throw money at politicians. Our government needs a MAJOR OVERHAUL – ban lobbyists and make term limits for the House and Senate the law of the land.

    January 31, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. ted

    Doesn't matter if it is Harry Reid or Charles Grassley, who cares what the party affiliation is. If these schmucks in Washington pick the NRA to be nice to instead of standing up to the NRA and giving a darn about the constiuents and voters, the AMERICAN people, then they all deserve to be fired. I am tired of the special interests and their whining and the NRA is on top of that pile. The audacity of Keene and Lapierre to defend the ownership of assault rifles and hi cap mags is abhorrent. This has nothing at all to do with the second amendment. This has everything to do with protecting human life. If Keen or Lapierre's family got shot up by some jerk with an AK47, I bet they would change their mind about it./

    January 31, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. a little sad

    "Rick McDaniel

    Reid is an Obama puppet, who will do precisely whatever Obama has asked him to do, with not a single variation."

    Reid was in the Senate for 22 years before Obama was elected. Was he warming up for his day in the sun all that time?

    January 31, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. a little sad

    "Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals, nor do we believe that government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families," Pierre said.

    I guess not, since the President of the NRA allowed his mentally disturbed son access to his weapons to shoot at people.

    At least the punk is in jail, but still, if the President of the NRA is too irresponsible to safeguard his own weapons, what does it say about the NRA?

    January 31, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. frespech

    Wow: Reid got a whole $8,000 from the NRA for his campaign. How insulting. I would vote against them because of it.

    January 31, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. Facts don't Lie

    the NRA is starting to remind me of our 12% approval rated congress....they don't seem to want to do what they were elected or in the case of the NRA their members want them to do. Unless the stats are wrong real NRA members agree with background checks and even to an extent limit on rounds and gun clips. But the leadership there has only one thing on it's mind...MONEY!! They don't seem to care who can buy a firemarm as long as they buy it. I remember years ago the NRA was more about gun saftey and ownership responsibility even worked with groups like the Boy Scouts on markmanship. Now they want to try to get younger folks to buy AK rifles and even had some pose in pictures with them with Santa Claus. How sad that group has come and the next time we have a mass shooting and there WILL be one it is just a matter of when, watch the gun sales go up and see who gets richer.

    January 31, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  17. Canuck

    America – where you have the right to own a gun but no right to affordable health care. What a twisted sense of priorities you have down there.

    January 31, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. GuestAgain

    The liberal twist on this is humorous. H

    January 31, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. Rick Springfield

    The high king potentate doesn't need it because his efforts to create today's unemployed can't be fixed, not even by a blue panel council.

    January 31, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. rs

    Actually (although they may not be bright enough to see it) it is the NRA that is under pressure. Their blunt stupidity, and inability to negotiate what needs to be done about firearms in the U.S. may well lead to far greater measures being taken. 100% backround checks is not "over-reaching", nor is limiting the type of weapon the public can buy. To those who "need" high-powered weaponry "to protect themselves from the government"- well first of all that sounds utterly crazy (and probably means you shouldn't have any guns), and well, try it. It won't matter what hardware you have- you'll lose. If that is what the NRA is about- protecting the rights of militia wannabees- well, they really are pretty useless in the great sceme of things.

    January 31, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. jinx88

    It is Reid's job to bring it to vote, if he doesnt he is a coward. With the support of the american people, NRA shouldnt have any say in how people vote. Last time I checked the NRA had not effect on any off the 2012 Congress or Senate races.

    January 31, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. jinx88

    The only reason I can see why NRA does not want back ground checks is it may slow guns sales and in return less money for the NRA. 80% of NRA members think background checks should be done. If the NRA speaks for the members then why doesnt the NRA agree with background checks?

    January 31, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  23. Facts don't Lie

    "Reid ia an Obama puppet, who would do precisely whatever Obama tells him to do....."

    This is funny considering the source a puppet for the far right wing and FoxNews talking points!

    January 31, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  24. lolo

    It is not Harry Reid, it is the NRA who is under pressure and they are trying to pretend that it does not bother them. Keep scaring your sheep with the nonsense. Tell them the truth that it is all about the money.

    January 31, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Facts don't Lie wrote:

    .., But the leadership there has only one thing on it's mind...MONEY!! They don't seem to care who can buy a firemarm as long as they buy it. I remember years ago the NRA was more about gun saftey and ownership responsibility even worked with groups like the Boy Scouts on markmanship. Now they want to try to get younger folks to buy AK rifles and even had some pose in pictures with them with Santa Claus. ...
    ----------------------
    The entire board at the NRA is comprised of owners and top executives of companies that manufacture weapons and ammo. The NRA's stated policies and positions on issues are determined by its' board members best interests.

    January 31, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
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