With gun legislation practically non-existent in recent years, it's easy to forget that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), before he became his caucus' leader, voted against the assault weapons ban. But in light of Friday's violence, Reid is joining his Democratic colleagues in looking anew at possible changes.
Reid conceded that "every idea must be on the table," adding, "We need to accept the reality that we are not doing enough to protect our citizens." The majority leader went on to say, "I believe part of that healing process will require Congress to examine what can be done to prevent more tragedies like the ones in Newtown, Conn.; Aurora, Colo.; Oak Creek, Wis.; and Portland, Ore."
Also today, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who's also been considered an NRA ally, conceded his perspective has changed. "I've been a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights," Warner said this morning. "I've got an A rating from the NRA. But the status quo isn't acceptable. I've got three daughters. They asked me on Friday evening, 'Dad, what are you gonna do about this?' There's got to be a way to put reasonable restrictions, particularly as we look at assault weapons, as we look at these fast clips of ammunition."
It's so saddening that it's come to this. We had to wait for 20 children to be shot dead in their school before we realized we have a problem. But with that being said, at least it's finally happening now.
And perhaps there may be another dynamic at work. Greg Sargent noted how new poll data show an upswing of support for better, common-sense gun safety reforms. In addition, support is strongest among the very voters who propelled President Obama, Senator Reid, and many other Democrats to victory in recent election cycles.
But again, above all else, there was that horribly remarkable outbreak of gun violence last week. A school was attacked in Newtown, Connecticut. A shopping mall was attacked in Clackamas County, Oregon. Another shopping mall was attacked in Orange County (CA). And even here in Southern Nevada, there was a shooting on the Las Vegas Strip.
Of course, new gun safety standards won't solve everything. There is no single panacea. However, we have to start somewhere. And perhaps enough people in Congress are finally waking up & realizing this for President Obama to have a real chance at pushing something through Congress.