Obama slams senators who opposed gun measure

A bipartisan gun control amendment to expand background checks failed in the Senate, where it was voted down 54-46. President Obama spoke on the failed vote at the White House Tuesday evening. "All in all, this is a pretty shameful day for Washington," he said.

In a news conference at the White House after the Senate failed to pass a bill on expanded gun background checks, a father of a Newtown victim reacted, saying, "We are not going away."

After the introduction by the Newtown father, President Obama said "a minority," which included 90 percent of Republicans, blocked the gun measure from passing. Obama called the failure of the so-called Manchin-Toomey amendment "a continued distortion of Senate rules."

The president said that the failure of the bill came down to politics, with politicians having "caved to the pressure," fearing there would be voter backlash.

"If action by Congress could save one person, if it could prevent people from losing their lives, we have the obligation to try," Obama said.

In addressing the presence of Newtown families amid gun talks, a clearly frustrated Obama dismissed criticism heard earlier this week that they are "props."

"Sooner or later we are going to get this right. The memories of these children demand it and so do the American people," President Obama concluded.

BLOCK ON EXPANDED GUN SALE BACKGROUND CHECKS

Senate Republicans backed by a small band of rural-state Democrats scuttled the most far-reaching gun control legislation in two decades on Wednesday, refusing to tighten background checks on firearms buyers or ban assault weapons as they spurned the personal pleas of families of the victims of last winter's elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn.

An attempt to ban assault-style rifles went down, too, and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines faced the same fate in a series of showdown votes four months after a gunman killed 20 elementary school children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary.

A bid to loosen restrictions on concealed weapons carried across state lines also fell.

That last vote marked a rare defeat for the National Rifle Association on a day it generally emerged triumphant over President Barack Obama, gun control advocates and individuals whose lives have been affected by mass shootings in Connecticut and elsewhere, some of whom watched from the spectator galleries above the Senate floor.

Obama on gun control: President Barack Obama makes a statement on gun violence as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and family members of Newtown, CT shooting victims look on.Getty Images: Win McNamee

"Shame on you," shouted one of them, Patricia Maisch, who was present two years ago when a gunman in Tucson, Ariz., killed six and wounded 13 others, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Vice President Joe Biden gaveled the Senate back into order after the breach of decorum.

The background check measure commanded a majority of senators, 54-46, but that was well short of the 60 votes needed to advance. Forty-one Republicans and five Democrats sided to scuttle the plan.

In the hours before the key vote, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., bluntly accused the National Rifle Association of making false claims about the expansion of background checks that he and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., were backing.

"Where I come from in West Virginia, I don't know how to put the words any plainer than this: That is a lie. That is simply a lie," he said, accusing the organization of telling its supporters that friends, neighbors and some family members would need federal permission to transfer ownership of firearms to one another.

The NRA did not respond immediately to the charge, but issued a statement after the vote that restated the claim. The proposal "would have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors and some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution," said a statement from Chris Cox, a top lobbyist for the group.

 

SENATE STOPS DEMS EFFORT TO LIMIT AMMUNITION

The Senate has voted to kill an effort to prohibit ammunition magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds.

The proposal was one of the responses to the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre that were advanced by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. They argued it was a way of reducing the likelihood that shooters could cause large numbers of casualties.

Such ammunition magazines were found at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and have been involved in some other mass shootings as well.

Opponents have said large ammunition magazines play a small role in gun violence.

The proposal attracted 46 "yes" votes Wednesday, well short of the 60 votes needed for passage. It was sponsored by Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

 

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