WASHINGTON — The Senate's top Democrat offered fresh details Sunday about his position in the renewed debate over guns, as he endorsed expanding background checks on gun sales and promised to consider bans on assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
"Everyone acknowledges we should do something with background checks," Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in an interview on ABC's This Week.
While Reid pronounced his support for expanding background checks on gun purchases, he said he was undecided about proposed bans on assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
"I didn't vote for the assault weapons last time because it … didn't make sense," Reid said. Nonetheless, Reid said he plans to "take a look" at the latest proposal. And imposing new restrictions on high-capacity magazines is "something we definitely have to take a look at," he said.
Reid's support for expanding background checks is a boost to the gun-control bill that appears to stand the best chance of garnering broad support on Capitol Hill. A bipartisan group of senators has been working on a proposal to expand background checks, and polls show that most Americans support mandating background checks for all gun sales. Under current law, sales involving licensed gun dealers require background checks, but those between private citizens do not.
By comparison, it's been much more difficult for gun-control advocates to build consensus around a proposed assault weapons ban, which a group of Democratic lawmakers introduced last month. It's not just Republicans who are likely to oppose the ban; Democrats facing re-election in conservative states next year could face intense criticism from gun rights groups over a vote in favor of the measure, which might prompt some to oppose it.
The nation's largest gun rights group, the National Rifle Association, staunchly opposes universal background checks. NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre warned on Fox News Sunday that requiring universal checks would lead to "a universal registry of law-abiding people."