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NRA supporter Sen. Casey now backs new gun laws

Add Sen. Bob Casey to the list of Democratic, pro-gun lawmakers who want new gun control legislation.

Add Sen. Bob Casey to the list of Democratic, pro-gun lawmakers who want new gun control legislation.

The Pennsylvania politician, who previously received high marks from the National Rifle Association, said Wednesday that he was so “haunted” by the horrific shooting in Newtown, CT.,  that he’d support Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s legislation to ban assault weapons and magazines that have more than 10 rounds.

“If those two bills come before the Senate, I’ll vote for both,” Casey told the Philadelphia Inquirer, adding he was spurred by his wife, who confronted him about doing something to stop gun violence.    

Several of Casey’s Democratic, pro-gun colleagues have also changed their stance on gun control following last week’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

That includes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and Congressmen Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Warner of Virginia, who said they’d be willing to support new legislation (although they did not specifically say they’d back Feinstein’s bills).

Hardball host Chris Matthews applauded Casey on Thursday for making  a “risky” and “courageous” decision  in a state that’s very pro-gun. msnbc political analyst Ron Reagan  called Casey’s decision “great,” but added that if all Congress does is ban a certain type of weapon or magazine with a certain capacity, “we will have failed here” and the changes will be “largely cosmetic.”

“It’s not just about the guns, it's about how people get guns, what people have to do in order to get guns. We should be treating this like automobile licences--you should have to prove you know how to use these things, you should prove you understand law around the use of guns. If we start talking about that we'll be realistic," added Reagan, the son of the former president who survived an assassination attempt.

 "I do think there will be more and more lawmakers who will follow what Casey has done," including Republicans, said Erin McPike of RealClearPolitics.

 The NRA, after remaining silent for days, said in a statement that it’s prepared to “offer meaningful contributions” to make sure tragedies like the one in Newtown never happen again. The group will hold a news conference on Friday.

McPike said she believed the NRA would provide meaningful action, while Matthews remained skeptical. The msnbc host predicted that the NRA would talk about mental health, the culture of violence in our society and  "everything but guns" on Friday.

“I don't have any confidence in the NRA...I think they believe in the absolute right to carry a gun and bear arms and they don’t want to hear anything against that until something really awful happens, and to them, I don't think it's happened yet," added Matthews.