Reid pledges open amendment process on gun-reform legislation

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledged to hold an open amendment vote on a major gun-reform bill after it moves through the chamber’s Judiciary Committee.

“What I am hopeful we can do is we can get a bill reported out of the Judiciary Committee,” Reid told reporters on Tuesday.

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“It may not be everything that everyone wants. I am hopeful it will have some stuff in there that’s really important. And then I expect to have a free amendment process on the floor.”

Reid has been stuck in a tricky position on the issue of gun-reform legislation, which the Obama administration has strongly pushed since a deadly elementary school shooting in Connecticut last month claimed the lives of 20 children.

Reid has said he opposes a bill banning assault weapons, which stands little chance of passing the House, but he has repeatedly vowed to hold a vote on a broad set of gun-reform measures that could include universal background checks, stricter mental health requirements and even a ban on high-capacity magazines.

Reid said on Tuesday that he called Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) last week and told the Judiciary chairman that he was impressed with his speech at Georgetown University’s Law Center earlier this month, which Reid called “forward-leaning.”

Leahy, who is a gun owner, said during that speech that he would push hard for some form of gun-control legislation with a focus on expanding background checks and limiting high-capacity magazines.

Leahy’s first hearing on the issue is scheduled for next week.

“This is an issue that we are not going to run from. It is an issue we need to talk about,” Reid said on Tuesday.

Leahy is not the only senator examining ways to prevent gun violence.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health Committee, announced Tuesday that he'll soon stage a hearing on methods to improve mental healthcare services, with a focus on early intervention and prevention.

A number of mass shootings in recent years have been carried out by young men suffering from acute mental illnesses, and President Obama has emphasized that mental-health treatments must be a part of his violence-prevention strategy.

Harkin's hearing is scheduled for Thursday.