How would a politician who argued today that guns “bring us together” and gave personal testimony to using handguns for personal protection be greeted by Democrats like Harry Reid? Why not ask Reid himself — or at least the 2010 version of Harry Reid, discovered by BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski? Appearing with then-NRA VP Wayne LaPierre at an opening of a shooting park in Clark County, Nevada, Reid fondly recalled the days of sport shooting with his three brothers, and how Reid protected himself against “a lot of bad people” while serving on the Nevada Gaming Commission:
At the time, Reid opposed the renewal of the so-called “assault weapons” ban. It probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere that year anyway, since Republicans controlled the Senate and George W. Bush was in the White House. However, Reid’s opposition undercut any serious effort on the part of Democrats that year to keep the law in force.
Now, of course, Reid isevolving on the issue, but Reid’s own personal experiences are just as relevant today as in 2004.
Meanwhile, National Journal reports that there seems to be some bipartisan consensus on restrictions of magazines and background checks that could result in legislation:
In an incredibly divided Congress, it seems ridiculous to assume lawmakers would focus on policy before politics. (For Exhibit A of political gamesmanship, look at the back and forth on a fiscal-cliff deal on Tuesday.) But on guns, it turns out there is a lot of rational agreement among even gun enthusiasts about trying to protect innocent people from being killed by them.
New rules being tossed around by lawmakers include banning high-capacity magazine clips, the kind that allow hundreds of rounds to be fired at a time, and tightening up background checks for gun purchases. Existing gun laws could also be enforced with greater regularity, such as compelling or enticing states to do a better job of reporting red flags like drug abuse or domestic violence to a national crime database.
“Obviously that system is only going to be as effective as the completeness of the data,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who supports banning high-capacity magazine clips and renewing the assault-weapons ban, which expired in 2004.
Collins identified the background-check system as one of the ripest areas where Republicans and Democrats and pro-gun and antigun members can find common ground. “That may not be as easy as you think. The issue is, how do you compel states to share the information about mental illness, adjudications, while at the same time being sensitive to the privacy rights of the individuals? So those issues are complicated.”
Typically, background checks include waivers on records privacy. The HIPAA laws on medical records may complicate this, though, and the push to get better mental-illness reporting might keep more people from seeking help for those afflictions. Still, the NRA and most other gun groups support background checks as long as they aren’t used to unfairly deny Americans the right to purchase firearms.
The “magazine clips” issue is another story, though. First, I’ve heard of “magazines” and “clips,” but not “magazine clips.” Assuming that we’re talking about restrictions on high-capacity magazinesand clips, that’s probably an outcome to which the NRA and gun-rights supporters will have to resign themselves, even though there isn’t any evidence that restricting sales to 10-round magazines for semiautomatic weapons will reduce the number of victims of madmen, especially if no one is armed when the gunman has to switch magazines.
Lindsey Graham’s response is on point:
“Here’s the temptation of people in my business to react and say we did something. Well, at the end of the day there are some problems that just go beyond the government’s ability to solve,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
An assault-weapons ban? “I don’t feel like that’s going to stop anything,” Graham said. “We live in a dangerous world. It’s always been that way, and you just can’t have the government solve every problem.”
The “assault”-weapons ban didn’t solve the problem when it was in place, and wouldn’t have applied in the Newtown shooting anyway. Connecticut had its own “assault”-weapons ban in place. The issue isn’t the guns; it’s the shooter. Harry Reid would have told you that if you asked him, at least in 2010.
Update: MRC TV has a clip from 1995 in which Reid’s Senate colleague Dianne Feinstein explains why she felt safer with a gun, too:
“I know the sense of helplessness that people feel. I know the urge to arm yourself because that’s what I did. I was trained in firearms. I walked to the hospital when my husband was sick. I carried a concealed weapon and I made the determination if somebody was going to try and take me out, I was going to take them with me.”
To be fair, though, it sounds as if she was about to argue the opposite as the clip ends in bringing up “terrorism from the far extremist left, and terrorism from the far extremist right.” Still, both of these Senators felt free to arm themselves when threatened; will they recall that when debating how to disarm the rest of us?
Update II: The Right Newz says he found the video, and in any case, this took place in 2010, not 2004. I’ve fixed the headline and references within the post.