Reid criticized a group of Senate Republicans, lead by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for sending him a letter warning that they would filibuster any attempt to bring gun-control measures to the floor.
After his comments on the Senate floor Monday, Reid filed a motion to proceed to S. 649, the Senate Democrats’ gun-control bill.
The Senate is scheduled to begin debate of gun-control legislation this week — nearly four months after a mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders were killed along with six school employees.
The Senate bill would expand background checks on firearm purchases, create new penalties on straw purchases and include new funding for school security. It doesn’t include an assault weapons ban or limits on magazine clip capacity — although Reid promised to allow a vote on those provisions as an amendment.
Republicans have expressed concern that extending background checks could create a federal registry of gun owners and make it harder for family members to transfer firearms. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said he’d introduce his own gun violence bill as an alternative.
Reid said that 90 percent of Americans support the Democrats’ plan to increase background checks for gun purchases.
"The legislation on the floor would keep guns out of the hands of convicted criminals and safeguard the most vulnerable Americans — our children," Reid said. "This proposal is supported by nine out of 10 Americans. If Republicans disagree with the measure, they are free to vote against it."
President Obama has launched a public effort to rally support for gun control, visiting states that have enacted tougher laws and speaking with families of victims of gun violence.