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Reid calls NRA ‘quasi-militant wing’ of Republican Party

WASHINGTON — One day after 14 people were slain in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid on Thursday blamed lawmakers for not acting on an “epidemic of gun violence” and described the National Rife Association as the Republican Party’s “quasi-militant wing.”

“Republicans must decide if they are more scared of gun violence or the NRA,” the Nevadan said.

Delivering his comments on the Senate floor, Reid ticked off a list of some of the nation’s deadliest mass shootings in recent years that included the young students killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., as well as the victims of massacres at Fort Hood, Texas, Aurora, Colo., and Washington, D.C.

Reid also included shootings in Las Vegas that left three people dead, including two police officers, and in Carson City, which left four dead.

He cited statistics showing there have been 355 mass shootings so far this year, which means the U.S. is averaging more than one a day.

“When the victims turn to us for leadership and help, we will have nothing to show them but empty hands and gestures,” Reid said.

“It is despicable.”

In apportioning blame, he included all members of Congress, challenging them to ask themselves where they stand.

“We are complicit through our inaction,” Reid said.

Still, he directed his most pointed remarks at the NRA and Republicans.

Reid recalled an earlier period of his decades-long career in politics, saying he at one time tried to work with the NRA.

“The NRA of today is a far cry from the sportsmen’s organization that I once supported. The NRA once called mandatory background checks ‘reasonable,'” he said.

“But now, its leadership and organization have transformed into the quasi-militant wing of the Republican Party.”

Reid’s bluntly worded comments set the stage for an effort by Democrats to force votes on a series of gun-related amendments during Senate consideration of a Republican proposal to appeal the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which is also referred to as Obamacare.

Votes on both the amendments and the underling legislation were viewed mostly as symbolic because lawmakers on both sides conceded that President Barack Obama will veto the legislation to save the Affordable Care Act, the president’s major achievement during his first term.

Contact Jim Myers at jmyers@reviewjournal.com or 202-783-1760. Find him on Twitter: @myers_dc

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