Heller: Background checks a ‘reasonable step forward’

“Absolutely,” said Heller, when asked on CNN’s "Starting Point" if there was growing bipartisan consensus on universal background checks.

Heller said he had heard from law enforcement officials who said background checks, more than other proposals like a ban on assault weapons, would be most effective in stemming gun violence.

“We had sheriffs form across the country in Washington, D.C., last week and I had discussions with my sheriffs back in Nevada and what they feel about the assault-rifles ban and all of these issues. The consensus among these sheriffs was the problem isn’t assault rifles, the problem is criminals and people with mental-health needs with assault rifles.”

“I think it’s a reasonable step forward,” he added.

Heller expressed skepticism about support for an assault-weapons ban and cautioned that he wanted lawmakers to take a broad approach to tackling gun crime.

“Let’s have the discussion about guns, but let’s also have the same discussions about mental health, violence on TV in the movies and video games,” said Heller.

President Obama is pressing lawmakers to act on a number of gun-control proposals including bans on assault rifles and high-capacity clips and mandatory background checks.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he would allow a floor vote on any measures that move through the Senate Judiciary Committee, which began hearings last week.

Reid on Sunday said he would support background-check legislation but said banning assault weapons would have a tougher fight to win Senate support.