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Senate's Harry Reid says now is the time for gun-law reforms

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday he would have trouble living with himself if he declined to support gun-control measures on the chamber floor Wednesday, particularly if and when tragedy strikes again.

Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, opened Senate debate on closely watched gun legislation with a rundown of recent mass shootings across America and the toll they’ve taken.

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“If innocents are gunned down in a classroom, theater or restaurant, I would have trouble living with myself as a senator, as a husband, a father, a grandfather and friend, knowing that I didn’t do everything in my power to prevent that incident,” Mr. Reid said.

The majority leader said he will support an amendment by Sens. Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, and Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey Democrat, which would ban high-capacity clips, citing laws that give birds a more “sporting chance” than people caught in the crossfire of murderers.

“Limiting the size of clips won’t hurt hunters and sportsmen, but it will save lives,” he said.

He also announced his support for an assault-weapons ban from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, and an amendment to address mental health issues.

A series of mass shootings around the country in recent years — from Tucson, Ariz., to Aurora, Colo., to Newtown, Conn. — has elicited Washington’s review of gun laws, a controversial topic that has pitted public safety considerations against the Second Amendment and powerful gun lobbies such as the National Rifle Association.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon bombings and the attempted delivery of a ricin-poisoned letter to Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi Republican, show the need to crack down on criminals and monitor the mentally unstable.

“In my view, we should focus on keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and those with mental issues that could cause them to be a threat to society,” he said. “The government should not punish or harass law-abiding citizens in the exercise of their Second Amendment rights, and it’s that focus on protecting communities and preserving our constituents’ constitutional rights that will be my guide as we begin to vote on amendments to this bill.”

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