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Bob Casey Explains Gun Control Switch After Newtown Shooting

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Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) explained his switch in position on gun control during a Monday morning appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," saying he thought about the Newtown, Conn., shooting and realized it could have been even worse.

"When I watched more and learned more about how he killed his mother and the rage that he brought to that school ... I began to think of what could’ve happened, and not the reality but the potential," he said, according to The Hill. "He was not going to kill 20 children, but he was going try and kill several hundred and would have if he'd had the time and the capacity."

Casey announced in December that he would support gun control measures such as bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. It was a significant switch given his longtime opposition to gun control and high rating from the National Rifle Association. The change was prompted by the shooting of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, along with the shooter's mother, a massacre that has restarted long-dormant talks of further regulating guns.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced last week that he would introduce a bill to require universal background checks on gun purchases, along with several other measures. A ban on assault weapons was not included in the base bill but will be offered as an amendment.

Other Democrats -- including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Reid -- also said their thinking on guns changed after the Newtown shooting.

Casey said he hopes other lawmakers are willing to consider supporting such measures.

"Elected official get in lanes, and on this issue you're either in one lane or the other, and there's really no middle ground even as you try to articulate a middle ground," he said on "Morning Joe." "I think that's where people are -- they just fall into their lanes and they vote the way they vote over time."

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