After last week’s mass shooting at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., in which nine people were killed, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is pushing for another vote on gun-control measures, including expanded background checks, Politico reports. “My personal feeling is that we have to take a hard look at this,” Reid said yesterday, adding that “even though we may not be able to win that vote,” many Americans are demanding action. “How many more of these tragedies are we going to have to come and try to explain away here?” Reid said. In a floor speech, he called for background checks that would prevent the mentally ill and people with criminal records from buying firearms.
In 2013, after the Newtown, CT, school massacre the previous December, the Democratic-controlled Senate failed to advance a bill from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WVA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to expand background checks on gun sales after most Republicans joined with a handful of red-state Senate Democrats to block it. Gun control legislation has been scarce on Capitol Hill since. Any measures putting more restrictions on firearms would be a major uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Congress. President Obama acknowledged that it was unclear whether legislation of the kind mentioned by Reid would have stopped Dylann Roof from committing the Charleston shooting. His purchase of a .45-caliber Glock handgun apparently was legal.