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Reid signals opening for gun-control debate in Senate

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has been a major blockade for gun-control legislation in the past, said Monday that it’s time the country renews the debate in the wake of the Connecticut elementary school shootings.

“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,” Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, said as he opened Monday’s session of the Senate — the first time lawmakers have convened since Friday’s shooting.

Mr. Reid has been a supporter of gun rights, including voting in 2004 against renewal of the so-called assault weapons ban.

And when President Obama earlier in his term told Mexico the U.S. should ratify a small-arms treaty, Mr. Reid’s adverse reaction shelved that part of his party leader’s agenda.

But in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School lawmakers, he and other gun-rights Democrats have begun a rethink.

“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,” Mr. Reid said.

Later in Monday’s session, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, promised to lead hearings on the status of laws but said other Senate committees need to step up to the plate to look at issues such as mental health concerns.

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