Sen. Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania says the Connecticut school shootings in December caused a significant change in his position on gun laws, despite the vast number of hunters in his state and the reality that politicians tend to "fall in their lanes and vote the way they vote over time."
"I made a pretty substantial shift in my position," Mr. Casey, a Democrat, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday. "I think we should have not only a vote, but should try to pass some of the measures we've been talking about — the assault weapons ban, the magazine clip legislation if we can get to that and the background checks. There could be others, but those are the main ones."
Gun legislation is sure to be in the forefront when Congress reconvenes after its Easter recess, as the tragedy in Newtown — in which a lone gunman killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school before killing himself — looms over the debate over gun control and Second Amendment rights.
Mr. Casey said he was haunted by the thought that Adam Lanza, who killed his mother before the rampage, may have killed hundreds more children if he had the "time and the capacity."
He said he has received both criticism and support for his shifting position on gun restrictions.
"It's a tough issue for people in our state, but I think for me the criticism, or the impact of that criticism, will come over time," he said on MSNBC.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell told the hosts that Mr. Casey will not be "hurt at all" by his positions, despite hefty lobbying by the National Rifle Association. He said the NRA's executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, is "full to it" and does not understand that many Americans are in favor of restrictions such as expanded background checks.
"It's not Mike Bloomberg that [LaPierre] has to worry about," he said, "it's the American people he has to worry about."
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