Perhaps Harry Reid isn't quite as dumb as he looks - or acts.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday declined to voice support for Democratic legislation that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.
Reid said he would bring gun-violence legislation to the floor and open it to a lengthy amendment process. But he declined to endorse the assault weapons ban introduced last week by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), which has the support of the 2nd- and 3rd-ranking Senate Democratic leaders.
"She's talked to me about her assault weapons. The new one. She believes in it fervently and I admire her for that. I'll take a look at that," he said in response to a reporter's question. "We're going to have votes on all kinds of issues dealing with guns, and I think everyone would be well advised to read the legislation before they determine how they're going to vote [on] it."
Feinstein's bill would ban the sale and manufacture of more than 150 types of semi-automatic weapons, including handguns with fixed magazines capable of holding more than 10 bullets.
Republicans have raised doubts that Reid will even bring gun-control legislation to the Senate floor. Reid helped defeat an effort five years ago to renew the federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.
Reid dispelled the GOP speculation.
He said he has told his colleagues he will do everything in his power to "bring legislation dealing with guns and violence, generally, to the floor."
Reid would have some problems back home in Nevada if he supported the ban, although he is more concerned about vulnerable Democratic colleagues up for election in 2014. If he had his druthers, he might not even bring a bill to the floor. The ban is toxic for Senators running in most of the country and none of them want an energized NRA funding their opponent and whipping up opposition to vote against them.
Reid may yet support a final bill - if it is sufficiently watered down. But he will be a good soldier and the president will get his up or down vote on the assault weapons ban.