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Karoun Demirjian, Political Reporter, Las Vegas Sun

BY AMY KINGSLEY -- Before the gun bill died Wednesday, five votes shy of a filibuster-proof majority, Sen. Harry Reid did something that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago.

He delivered an impassioned speech in support of expanded background checks, a ban on assault weapons and limits on the size of ammunition clips.

Yes, the same Sen. Reid who celebrated the grand opening of the Clark County Shooting Park with his good friend, Wayne LaPierre, president of the National Rifle Association, declared his support for sweeping gun control measures.

“In civil society, where we have to balance individual rights with public safety, there should be limits on the kind of destructive weapons people are allowed to own,” Reid said.

Reid’s declaration didn’t change enough minds to save the gun bill, but the former gun-rights supporter was trying to lead the way for other Democrats from states with strong gun culture, said Karoun Demirjian, political reporter for the Las Vegas Sun.

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“I think Reid tried to set an example for those other senators at the last minute when he, from Nevada, made that very impassioned speech Wednesday morning saying he wasn’t just going to support background checks, he was going to support the whole gamut of gun control proposals,” Demirjian said.

It’s not the only issue he’s changed his mind on recently. He used to oppose immigration reform and same-sex marriage. Now he supports both. His change of heart mirrors what’s happening in the nation, Demirjian said.

“People evolve. I suppose the fact that Sen. Reid has evolved on some of the bigger social issues of our time, is, in a way, a litmus test for what’s been going on in our country,” Demirjian said. “There has been a shift about the acceptance of gay marriage. Same deal with immigration. Same sort of thing, Democrats are trying to argue, is happening with gun control.”

 

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