harry reid

Sen. Reid Pushes Ahead With Gun Legislation

by The Wall Street Journal  |  published on January 24, 2013

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said Tuesday he has directed the Judiciary Committee to take up gun-control legislation called for by President Barack Obama.

The announcement, coming a day after Mr. Obama’s second inaugural address, provides further assurance that the Senate will act on one of the president’s second-term priorities, despite deep misgivings from fellow Democrats.

“This is an issue we’re not going to run from,” Mr. Reid told reporters Tuesday after discussing the topic with Senate Democrats. “It’s an issue we need to talk about.” Mr. Reid said he expects an open amendment process once the bill reaches the floor.

Gun control is a thorny subject for congressional Democrats because it plays to a regional divide between lawmakers who represent more urban communities and those from predominantly rural states. Some red-state Democrats are reluctant to discuss more aggressive limits on gun use, including new restrictions on certain semiautomatic firearms. This crowd includes senators who are up for re-election next year in states Mr. Obama lost last year.

But while many of those Democrats are reluctant to back the most ambitious reforms, they are open to supporting other, more modest steps. Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, for example, said he supports the incentives the president outlined to bolster security at schools and could back some of the components of Mr. Obama’s plan relating to mental health.

Mr. Reid faces the daunting challenge of balancing the misgivings of his red-state colleagues with efforts of the liberal members of his caucus to get Congress to do more to prevent gun violence in the U.S.

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