Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Democrats might share some blame for the inability to pass gun control laws in recent years, but he also blamed Americans for possibly being duped by the National Rifle Association.
"We've tried everything, so maybe we are to blame,” Reid told the Associated Press. “Or maybe the American people are gullible to these NRA folks."
NRA executive Wayne LaPierre appeared with Reid in 2010 – when Reid was seeking re-election – at the opening of a gun range in Nevada. Though the NRA didn't endorse Reid in the race, it was seen as a sign that the group didn't oppose the senator, either.
Democratic leaders in Congress, as well as President Barack Obama, have expressed frustration at not being able to turn previous mass shootings into momentum for gun control.
Reid, the former majority leader, will not be seeking re-election in 2016.
"Why wouldn't it be realistic to do something about gun control?" he asked. "Why should somebody that's crazy or a criminal be able to buy a gun? Why should somebody that's on a terrorist watch list be able to buy a gun?"
However, the AP reported that after the interview, Reid issued a statement disputing how his comments were characterized in the initial report.
"Republicans and the NRA, not Democrats, are to blame for the failure to pass common-sense gun reforms. The idea that Democrats are to blame is absurd and I do not believe it for a second," the Reid statement said. "Democrats have voted overwhelmingly for common-sense gun reforms."
"Two weeks ago, Republicans voted in lock step to allow FBI terror suspects to continue to buy guns," the Reid statement said. "It's a shame, but the next time a reporter tries to put words in my mouth I guess I'll have to remember not to be polite."
On a separate note, Reid said that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is a “slam dunk” to win the Nevada caucuses, and said, “I hope he wins” the Republican presidential nomination.