Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he may call for a vote on legislation toughening the laws on background checks for gun purchases following the fatal shooting of two police officers and a bystander in Las Vegas.
Reid, a Nevada Democrat and a gun owner, said he had no expectation the legislation would pass, but the vote would help highlight the differences between the two parties when it comes to gun control.
“We need some more votes,” Reid said, after a closed-door meeting with fellow Senate Democrats. “But it may be good to bring this up just to send the American people another message about how 85 percent of the American people can agree on one thing, but it doesn't mean a thing to the Republicans here.”
In April 2013, the Senate rejected legislation that would have expanded the requirement for background checks to gun shows and the internet. The bill died after a 54-46 vote, and Democrats blamed the GOP, which mostly voted against it. But three Democrats rejected the measure, while four Republicans voted for it.
The bill was the product of extensive bipartisan negotiations that were prompted by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
Gun control legislation has virtually no chance of passing either the House or Senate at this point, in part because it's an election year and several vulnerable Senate Democrats are from pro-gun states.
Earlier this month, 31-year-old Jerad Miller and his wife, Amanda, 22, shot the officers and another customer at a pizza restaurant.
Reid suggested that if the background check bill had become law, Miller would not have been able to purchase a gun because he was a felon.
Federal law already prohibits felons from owning firearms, but Miller’s wife was not a convicted felon and is believed to have bought the guns.
It is also illegal for a felon to live in a house with access to guns.
Jerad Miller also sought access to guns on Facebook.