Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) became emotional on the Senate floor Wednesday as he urged senators to support a gun safety bill that, in part, expands background checks to individuals who purchase guns at gun shows or online. The Senate will consider at least nine amendments to the measure on Wednesday afternoon, including provisions to ban assault weapons and limit the availability of high capacity magazines.
Reid — a moderate Democrat who has a ‘B’ rating from the National Rifle Association — tore into conspiracy theorists who use “shameful scare tactics” to claim that requiring more gun buyers to undergo screenings would lead to the creation of a national gun registry. He argued that the amendment offered by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) specifically outlaws a registry “on page 27” and would strengthen existing prohibitions against federal officials who store the names of gun owners.
“The courage today is to say yes,” Reid said, as he called on his fellow senators to vote their conscience:
Today our decision will determine the decision of our country. Today I choose to vote my conscience, not only is Harry Reid a United States senator but also a a husband, a father, a grandfather and I hope friend of lots and lots of people, I choose to vote my conscience because, if tragedy strikes again, I’m sorry to say, Mr. President, it will, if innocents are gunned down in a classroom, theater or restaurant, I would have trouble living with myself as a senator, as a husband, a fathers, or grandfather and friend, knowing that I didn’t do everything in my power to prevent that incident.
Reid also announced his support for Sen. Diane Feinstein’s (D-CA) assault weapons bill, noting that “maintaining law and order is more important than satisfying the conspiracy theorists who believe in black helicopters and false flags.” He made a similar case for Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s (D-CT) high capacity magazine amendment and pointed out that hunters don’t need 30 rounds, as they are already limited in how they can target animals. “Don’t people deserve as much protection as birds?” he asked.
Earlier today, Manchin told reporters that his background check amendment is unlikely to attract the 60 votes it needs for passage and accused the National Rifle Association of spreading misinformation.