The Democratically-controlled U.S. Senate will not be a free-for-all of new gun regulations following the shooting at Sandy Hook, according to Majority Leader Harry Reid. Instead, Senators will focus on passing legislation that can move through the Republican-controlled House, Reid said.
That could spell doom for an assault weapons ban. Speaking on Nevada Week In Review, a news show on the PBS affiliate in Las Vegas, Reid said there’s no real chance of a new ban passing the House.
“Is it something that can pass the Senate? Maybe. Is it something that can pass the House? I doubt it,” he said in video of the program provided to TPM by Vegas PBS. “So I think there are things that we know we can do.”
The National Rifle Association has praised Reid in the past for his opposition to the assault weapons ban, as well as his support for other legislation favored by the gun lobby.
Though President Obama continues to support reinstating the ban on assault weapons, the gun control crowd has set universal background checks as their chief goal following the Newtown, Conn. massacre.
Reid called on a holistic approach to dealing with gun violence that includes a look at firearms, but he called for a slowed down debate. Gun control proponents have urged politicians to act fast in the wake of Newtown, which has opened up a political conversation about guns not seen in Washington for years.
Asked if his own view on gun control has changed since Newtown, Reid didn’t offer the kind of answer other NRA-backed Democratic senators have since the elementary school shooting. He offered one that pointed to guns as part of the cause of violence in society.
“The Second Amendment is something that was adhered to by Hubert Humphrey, John Kennedy,” Reid said. “So I don’t think anyone wants to diminish the Second Amendment, but I think everyone should just take a deep breath and realize where we are and where we need to go.
“We have too much violence in our society, and it’s not just from guns. It’s from a lot of stuff. and i think we should take a look at TV, movies, video games and weapons. And I hope that everyone will just be careful and cautious.”
Rather than commit to any specific courses of action, Reid said he’d wait to see what Obama will propose on guns — and through executive order. For now, the Democratic leader in the Senate said it’s time to take a breath.
“Let’s just look at everything. I don’t think we need to point to anything now,” he said. “We need to be very cool and cautious.”
Reid said polls show Americans are still on the side of groups that want to see ready access to firearms.
“We have to be fair. I was surprised with the poll results that came after this terrible situation that occurred at Sandy Hook. the numbers around the country — most people favor having the ability of people to carry guns,” he said. “So I think that the American people want us to be very cautious what we do. I think they want us to do things that are logical, smart, and make the country safer, not just be doing things that get a headline in a newspaper.”
Watch a clip of the interview: