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Rep. Tom Reed -- R-Wild West?

NY House Reporters wanted to know: Does Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, believe in any limits on gun ownership?

In wake of Saturday's shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, Reed just wasn't saying.

In a conference call on Tuesday, Reed, in his second month in Congress, repeatedly fended off questions about gun control with a refrain he kept repeating, with slight variations.

"There will come a time and place when that kind of discussion is appropriate," Reed said -- adding that when it is, he will be guided by one principle.

"You know my feelings about the Second Amendment," which, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms. "To me it's an individual, fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution. This tragedy hasn't changed my philosophy and my belief in that principle of the Constitution."

Reporters pressed on, asking more detailed questions about if and when guns should be regulated. But when asked if what happened in Arizona should lead to more gun control measures, Reed wasn't budging.

"To react to a tragedy sometimes leads to knee-jerk policy-making," he said. "I am not a supporter of that....To me, those discussions need to be at a time and place where the emotion and the...media spotlight is not generating the policy."

Reed then added that tougher gun control might not have stopped Jared Loughner, the accused shooter in the Arizona massacre, which claimed six lives.

"A crazy man such as the man in Arizona could get a weapon illegally, he said. "There are weapons out there, they're part of our society, part of our world. We could have all the regulations in the world and a crazy guy like this guy could get the weapon and do what he is gong to do. The regulatory aspect to me is not appropriate."

In fact, Reed indicated that government intervention may not be appropriate to determine whether someone is psychologically stable enough to own a gun.

"Are we going to trust the police to go into every person's house and do a field visit and sit down and hire a psychiatrist to come in and say that, oh, yep, that person's sane and therefore can get a gun?

That's the slippery slope we get going on," Reed said.

A reporter then asked what weapons the government should regulate -- "Is it a bazooka, a ground-to-air missile, would you license anythng at all?"

To which Reed replied: "Those are issues we're going to get into...As that debate comes up wil have that discussion. But I start the whole discussion process with my belief that the Second Amendment is an individual, fundamental right, just as the Supreme Court has agreed."

How about regulating "cop-killer" bullets?

"I start the conversation with an upfront position that I stand with the Second Amendment as an individual, fundamental right. We'll talk to the police and see that they're protected," Reed added.

But Reed was, grudgingly, willing to make one concession to those who oppose anything-goes gun sales.

"If you have someone in a mental health institution applying for a gun license, would I advocate for that person? Probably not," Reed concluded.

-- Jerry Zremski

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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