UPDATED BELOW WITH REID'S SENATE FLOOR REMARKS
As some of his colleagues called for gun control measures, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will have to reconcile his past fealty to gun rights interests in the state with growing demands for action.
Reid is expected to speak today on the Senate floor about guns amid a rising volume of voices calling for action, whatever it might be, to prevent similiar tragedies, a nearly impossible task.
But as the president lamented last night in Newtown that "we are not doing enough," the question is what Reid will do. He has openly courted the NRA in the past, and when the group offered a no-endorsement in his re-election bid two years ago, his campaign manager touted Reid's gun rights bonafides:
"The NRA’s relationship with Sen. Reid has been long-standing and productive and – unlike for Sharron Angle – they’ve put their money where their mouth is this cycle. Along with their financial support, the declaration of NRA head Wayne LaPierre that Sen. Reid is 'a true champion of the Second Amendment' and that 'no one has been a stronger advocate for responsible gun ownership than him' shows beyond a doubt that the NRA believes Sen. Reid to be a strong advocate for Nevadans’ Second Amendment rights in the US Senate."
That "true champion" comment came from NRA boss Wayne LaPierre at the dedication of the Clark County Shooting Park and Reid is not seen as a friend to gun control advocates, with some accusing him of killing the assault weapons ban in 2004, and his actions after the Colorado shootings this year also were muted.
Even though conventional wisdom says the GOP-controlled House would kill any gun control legislation, nothing is conventional right now, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Reid become an advocate for gun control today.
UPDATE: More on Reid's gun record.
The Almanac of American Politics, in talking about how he differs from other Democrats, sums it up thusly: "He has opposed most gun control measures."
But while the NRA sees his record as mixed, another group, with more exacting standards, put out a piece in 2010 suggesting Reid is no friend of the Second Amendment. Interestingly, one of the votes the Gun Owners of America points to is a Schumer-Boxer amendment in 2000: "Voted for an amendment offered by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) blaming school violence on the fact that Congress 'failed to pass reasonable, common-sense gun control measures and call for new gun ownership restrictions on the anniversary of the Columbine shootings.'"
But his go-slow admonition in the wake of Aurora to other Democrats, including New Jersey's Frank Lautenberg, who plans to announce more gun control measures, also upset some of his colleagues. And in 2009, as he prepared for a difficult re-election bid, Reid created a furor by allowing a vote on a bill that would have allowed concealed weapons to be carried across state lines.
So does proximity to an election matter? We may find out soon. Reid is not up again until 2016.
UPDATE II: This morning on the Senate floor, Reid said about as little as the president did on what specifically should be done (I have attached his full remarks here):
As President Obama said last night, no one law can erase evil. No policy can prevent a determined madman from committing a senseless act of violence.
But we need to accept the reality that we are not doing enough to protect our citizens.
In the coming days and weeks, we will engage in a meaningful conversation and thoughtful debate about how to change laws and culture that allow violence to grow.
We have no greater responsibility than keeping our most vulnerable and most precious resource – our children – safe. And every idea should be on the table as we discuss how best to do just that.
Change laws? Hmmm.....