Reid seeks expanded gun background checks

Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidReid sums up 114th Congress as 'a flop' Reid: GOP treated Obama with 'unprecedented disrespect' Abortion rights group ads tie vulnerable GOP senators to Trump MORE (D-Nev.) called Tuesday for Congress to expand background checks for gun purchases in the wake of a shooting in Charleston, S.C., last week that left nine dead.

"The United States is the only advanced country where this type of mass violence occurs," Reid said from the Senate floor. "Let's do something. We can expand, for example, background checks. ... We should support not giving guns to people who are mentally ill and felons."

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The Senate previously failed to expand background checks in 2013 in the wake of a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

The Democratic leader added, "I understand the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result, and that's what we're doing."

Reid is the latest Democrat to push to add new limits on guns in the wake of a shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Many gun control advocates, however, acknowledge that the incident likely will do little to spark new laws.

But Reid warned that without new legislation, "we will be here again. Our hearts will be broken again, and we're going to have to ask ourselves how we allowed another senseless tragedy to take place while we stand by doing nothing."

The Democratic leader also weighed in on a debate over the Confederate flag sparked by the shooting, backing South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s (R) call for the flag to be removed from the state's Capitol grounds.

"I applaud her. I appreciate her courageous act," he said. "[The flag] is a symbol of slavery. It is a symbol of white supremacy. ... It is a symbol of the Ku Klux Klan."