Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement Wednesday that he  hopes to move forward on gun control legislation “early this year” and that “all options should be on the table moving forward.” But Reid sounded more skeptical over the weekend, telling a Nevada television station that Obama’s most ambitious request – a new federal ban on assault weapons – likely couldn’t be passed by the House and Senate in the current political environment.

Senate Democratic aides said that unlike debates in recent years on health-care reform and fiscal policy, Reid is likely to step back on the gun issue, allowing longtime gun control advocates, including Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), to steer legislation to consideration by the full Senate.