Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) urged Congress to renew the effort to pass a measure to expand background checks during gun purchases, making a personal plea that drew from his father's suicide.

"Those of us who experience suicide in our lives understand how important it is to remember," said Reid. "My dad killed himself with a pistol. He was a relatively young man."

Reid's father killed himself in 1972 after a battle with depression. While he has rarely discussed it publicly in recent years, Thursday wasn't the first time Reid invoked his father's suicide in a discussion about guns. He mentioned it on the Senate floor in April.

Reid was joined on Capitol Hill Thursday by family members of the victims of last year's mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school, at least one of whom grew visibly emotional when speaking.

"We have to remember what took place in Connecticut, in that little elementary school, and can never take those names out of our minds," said Reid, who maintained that he won't accept a "watered down" version of the measure that fell short in the Senate earlier this year. He did not offer a specific timetable about when the Senate would return to the gun control debate.