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Harry Reid, White House Shy From Gun Control Debate

Despite President Barack Obama’s Wednesday night speech calling for a national conversation on reducing violence, in which he repeated his preference to sign an assault weapons ban, the president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are still shying away from a floor fight on the issue.

“With the schedule we have, we’re not going to get into a debate on gun control,” the Nevada Democrat told reporters today. “But I’m very happy, I’m glad the president made this statement because it’s something that needs to be done. But we’re not going to address gun control.”

Earlier this week, Reid refused to answer whether he personally supports a ban on 100-round magazines like those used in the recent Aurora, Colo., massacre.

Asked several times today whether Obama wanted Congress to vote on an assault weapons ban or other measures, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney deferred to a standard talking point about enforcing “existing law.”

“He recognizes there is a stalemate in Congress,” Carney said.

Obama has not demanded Congress vote on gun control measures since taking office. But on Wednesday he reiterated his opposition to assault weapons after saying that he believes in the Second Amendment right to own firearms.

“I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals, that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities,” he said.

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, despite having signed an assault weapons ban as governor of Massachusetts, said in an interview with NBC that he does not think new gun laws are needed.

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