Reid Moves Forward on Gun Bill, Includes Background Checks

Shane Goldmacher

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday he was moving forward on a gun-control measure that will include new background check and gun trafficking provisions, in hopes of bringing the measure to the floor after a two-week spring recess.

Reid said the measure, which will also include efforts to improve school safety, will serve as “the basis for opening debate,” but not the final package. All the elements included in the measure recently passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Left out of the bill, however, is a ban on assault weapons, limits on high-capacity ammo clips, and an overhaul of the nation’s mental health programs. Reid said all those elements – and more – would still receive a vote as amendments, though not being included in the base legislation is a severe blow to their chances.

“In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for all of these provisions to receive votes, and I will ensure that they do,” he said.

While the new gun bill includes background check provisions, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., still has not struck a deal to bring along multiple Republicans, though he has vowed to continue searching until he does.

"Things are happening,” Schumer said on Thursday. “It's not just still waters." 

Reid said that if such a compromise is reached, “I am open to including it in the base bill.”

He also made clear that background checks are a must-have in any comprehensive legislation. “I want to be clear: in order to be effective, any bill that passes the Senate must include background checks,” Reid said.