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U.S. Senate blocks gun-control law

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Wednesday rejected a bipartisan plan to expand background checks for gun buyers, dealing a crippling blow to President Barack Obama’s campaign to curb gun violence after the Newtown school massacre.

Despite emotional pleas from families of victims of the Newtown, Connecticut, shootings and broad public support nationwide, the plan to extend background checks to online and gun-show sales failed on a 54-46 vote, six short of the 60-vote hurdle needed to clear the Senate.

“All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” an angry Obama said of the vote, adding the effort “is not over.”

The amendment by Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania had represented Obama’s best hope to pass meaningful gun-control legislation after the December massacre of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown.

“Our hearts are broken. Our spirit is not,” Mark Barden, the father of a victim of the Newtown shootings, said at the White House after the vote, with Obama looking on. “We always knew this would be a long road. We don’t have the luxury of turning back.”

The amendment was unpopular with Republican senators — both of Georgia’s senators, Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, and Johnny Isakson, R-Marietta, voted against it. Four of the 45 GOP senators, including former Republican presidential nominee John McCain, R-Ariz., voted for the amendment.

Other measures backed by Obama - including a proposal to ban rapid-firing “assault” weapons like the one used in Connecticut — also failed in a series of Senate votes that starkly showed the lingering political power of gun rights defenders and the National Rifle Association.

“It came down to politics,” Obama said, adding too many senators had worried a vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in the next election.

The votes were the culmination of weeks of intense negotiations and lobbying over Obama’s proposed gun restrictions. The defeat of the background checks amendment could doom the biggest package of gun legislation Congress has considered in two decades.

“Shame on you!” a spectator in the gallery shouted as the tally was announced by Vice President Joe Biden, who presided over the Senate votes.

Political momentum for new gun-control laws had dissipated after December’s shooting. Opponents criticized the proposals as government overreach that would infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms, and the NRA mounted a strong lobbying effort against it.

“Show some guts,” Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein told her colleagues before they voted on her amendment to ban assault weapons, which drew support from only 40 senators.

Four Democrats who will face re-election in conservative, gun-friendly states opposed the Manchin-Toomey background checks amendment — Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Max Baucus of Montana.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid supported the measure, but changed his vote after it was apparent it would lose in order to preserve his option to bring the measure back up in the Senate.

Four Republicans backed it: Toomey, Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona and Mark Kirk of Illinois.

POLITICAL PAYBACK

Supporters promised political payback for foes of the amendment. Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, severely wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in Arizona, said in a joint statement with husband Mark Kelly that the Senate “ignored the will of the American people.”

“We will use every means possible to make sure the constituents of these senators know that their elected representatives ignored them, and put Washington, D.C. special interest politics over the effort to keep their own communities safer from the tragedy of gun violence,” they said.

The Manchin-Toomey background checks amendment allowed exemptions for private sales or gifts between families and friends and prohibited the creation of a national registry of guns. Polls show more than 80 percent of Americans support expanded background checks.

‘SHAMEFUL SCARE TACTICS’

But the NRA had warned members the proposal would require checks for sales and gifts between family and friends and lead to a national registry.

The NRA’s assertions are “a lie. That is simply a lie, and anybody who can read knows that is not factual,” Manchin, a strong gun-rights defender, said on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

Reid, a Nevada gun owner and gun-rights defender, accused the gun lobby of “shameful scare tactics” and questioned why his colleagues would reject a proposal backed by nearly 90 percent of Americans.

“We must strike a better balance between the right to defend ourselves and the right of every child in America to grow up safe from gun violence,” Reid said.

The Democratic-led Senate also rejected several Republican-sponsored amendments backed by the NRA that would have expanded gun rights.

An amendment from Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa would have replaced the existing gun-control bill with a plan to focus on prosecuting gun crimes, improving mental health records for gun owners and funding improved school safety measures. It was rejected on a 52-48 vote.

“Rather than restricting the rights of law-abiding Americans, we should be focusing on keeping guns out of the hands of violent criminals, which this legislation accomplishes,” Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz said of Grassley’s measure.

Comments

Cartman 1 year, 3 months ago

The butt-hurt is strong from Obama and Bloomberg. And they accuse the NRA of trying to influence the outcome with scare tactics? LOL! That's the pot calling the kettle black.

The real shocker to them is probably the realization that most of America doesn't think like the libs with whom they surround themselves.

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Sherwood_Eagle_Alum 1 year, 3 months ago

BHO was ticked at the news conference.

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USTPC 1 year, 3 months ago

To say the least. He did not get his way and he was not happy about it. I thought he was going to throw a tantrum right there on the podium.

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OUTsiderLookingINalbany 1 year, 3 months ago

And I enjoyed every milli-second of it!

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 3 months ago

Couldn't get all the Democrat vote. That says it all.

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VSU 1 year, 3 months ago

Obumya is a spoiled brat who pouts when things don't go his way. Maybe bubbasmith will loan him one of his tissues.

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JamesCalhounJr 1 year, 2 months ago

This is just a question and maybe food for thought or a catalyst to get you thinking in the right direction. As I, understand it President Obama's Mother moved to Indonesia with Him when He was very young and married a influential man with the last name of Soetoro. Who adopted The young, Who, and gave Him His last name. So it is my understanding that the now young Soetoro at this point became a citizen of Indonesia where He was socialized and educated. As I, understand it At some point in time the now young Soetoro entered the United States on some type of visa with a Indonesia passport, which made Him eligible to enter the higher education system under the foreign exchange student program. Gee, that sure is a lot of I suppose, but one more could it be that He still is not a naturalized citizen of the United States? Have you ever wonder why President Obama want release His education records? Maybe, what we need to do is encourage the congress to fully investigate, vet, him as they should have when He was running for office to determine His true identity and nationality. I would be interested to know the truth, wouldn't you?

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