The Gun Control Push Gets Personal

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 9 2013 12:34 PM

The Gun Control Push Gets Personal

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)

Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, apparently taking a lead from President Obama's emotionally-charged effort to drum up support for federal gun control reform this week, spoke on the Senate floor Tuesday about his own father's suicide.

As of now, Reid faces a possible filibuster from 13 Senate Republicans (and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell). While he wants a vote on the measure this week, Reid is struggling to secure the 60 votes Democrats would need to overcome the procedural block and start debate. Via Politico, here's Reid getting personal on the effectiveness of a Nevada bill he wrote that requires waiting periods for gun purchases:

"In Nevada, if you purchase a handgun you have to wait three days to pick it up ... And it is believed that alone has saved the lives of many people. Sometimes people in a fit of passion will purchase a handgun to do bad things with it, Mr. President even as my dad did, killed himself. Waiting a few days helps. ... I hope Republicans will stop trying to shut down debate."
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But Reid's speech on the Senate floor is just one moment in a larger campaign to move gun control legislation forward in Congress this week. Today, 11 family members of Newtown victims are in Washington, lobbying senators on the issue. They flew on Air Force One from Connecticut following the president's speech in the state Monday night, the Guardian reported. Yesterday, Obama's remarks at the University of Hartford in Connecticut were met with enthusiasm by the crowd, which certainly helped the president sell his main point, that gun control—including the expansion of background checks—is supported by the majority of the nation:

“I know that some of these proposals inspire more debate than others, but each of them has the support of the majority of the American people...All of them are common sense. All of them deserve a vote ... If our democracy's working the way it’s supposed to, and 90 percent of the American people agree on something, in the wake of a tragedy, you’d think this would not be a heavy lift. And yet some folks back in Washington are already floating the idea that they might use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms.”

Democrats will have a much easier time moving the bill forward if they can come to an agreement with Republicans on expanding background checks. As the Associated Press explains, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey are currently at the center of those negotiations. If they don't reach a compromise, however, Democrats will have to risk trying to push the bill through alone.

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Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

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