Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced Wednesday he will vote legislation that would ban many types of assault-style weapons and limit the size of ammunition clips.
It’s a substantial shift for Reid, a gun owner who hails from a solidly pro-gun state and who has faced many tough re-election battles. A Harry Reid website still touts the support he’s enjoyed from the National Rifle Association, but that’s likely to change.
Reid voted in 1993 against an assault weapons ban but he said Wednesday that his view of guns has evolved in the wake of mass shootings like the one last December at Sandy Hook Elementary in December.
Reid said that if he voted against the legislation and there is another mass shooting, “I would have trouble living with myself.”
Reid took to the floor early Wednesday to make the announcement as the Senate embarked on another day of debate on gun control legislation.
The base bill includes a background check measure, school safety funding and new penalties for gun trafficking.
The assault weapons ban and ammunition clip limitations will be considered as amendments.
The gun and ammunition clip limits are certain to fail because Republicans and many red-state Democrats up for re-election will vote against the provisions. The background check measure, which calls for background checks for commercial firearms sales, is also in trouble because many lawmakers fear it limits the second amendment right to gun ownership. Back room dealmaking is underway that may yield a watered down version of the background check measure to exclude people who do not leave near gun dealerships, but as of Wednesday morning, proponents lacked the 60 votes needed to pass it.
Reid made his case by outlining the events at recent mass shootings, pointing out that some survived only because the shooter had to switch clips.
Reid noted that shotguns are limited to three rounds.
“So that when you went bird hunting, you gave birds a sporting chance,” Reid said. “Don’t people deserve as much protection as birds? Limiting magazine size will force shooters bent on taking a life to reload more often.”