Obama's gun measures fail

WASHINGTON —  Senate Republicans backed by a small band of rural-state Democrats scuttled the most far-reaching gun control legislation in two decades Wednesday, rejecting tighter background checks for buyers and a ban on assault weapons as they spurned pleas from families of victims of last winter's school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

The Associated Press

President Barack Obama arrives to participate in a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, Wednesday, in Washington, about measures to reduce gun violence. With tObama is former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, left, and Mark Barden, the father of Newtown shooting victim Daniel.

"This effort isn't over," President Barack Obama vowed at the White House moments after the defeat on one of his top domestic priorities. Surrounded by Newtown relatives, he said opponents of the legislation in both parties "caved to the pressure" of special interests.

A ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines also fell 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 was rejected, as well.

That last vote marked a rare defeat for the National Rifle Association on a day it generally triumphed over Obama, gun control advocates and many of the individuals whose lives have been affected by mass shootings in Connecticut and elsewhere.

Some of them watched from the spectator galleries above the Senate floor. "Shame on you," shouted one, 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.

Gun control advocates, including Obama, had voiced high hopes for significant action after the Newtown shootings. But the lineup of possible legislation gradually dwindled to a focus on background checks, and in the end even that could not win Senate passage. Chances in the Republican-controlled House had seemed even slimmer.

By agreement of Senate leaders, a 60-vote majority was required for approval of any of the provisions brought to a vote.

The vote on the background check was 54-46, well short of the 60 votes needed to advance. Forty-one Republicans and five Democrats voted to reject the plan.

The proposed ban on assault weapons commanded 40 votes; the bid to block sales of high capacity ammunition clips drew 46.

The NRA-backed proposal on concealed carry permits got 57.

In the hours before the key vote on background checks, 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.

Said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, "Expanded background checks would not have prevented Newtown. Criminals do not submit to background checks."

Even before the votes, the administration signaled the day's events would not be the last word on an issue that Democratic leaders shied away from for nearly two decades until Obama picked up on it after the Newtown shootings.

Biden's presence was a purely symbolic move since each proposal required a 60-vote majority to pass and he would not be called upon to break any ties. Democratic aides said in advance the issue would be brought back to the Senate in the future, giving gun control supporters more time to win over converts to change the outcome.

Obama, standing near Giffords and relatives of other shooting victims, said at the White House public opinion was strongly behind expanded background checks. Despite that, opponents of the legislation were "worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money" at the next election, he said.

"So all in all this was a pretty shameful day for Washington," he added.

Giffords, in a piece published late Wednesday on the New York Times' op-ed page, said she was "furious" that the Senate blocked the gun legislation. She accused senators who opposed new gun regulations of "cowardice," saying their decisions were "based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association."

The day's key test concerned the background checks, designed to prevent criminals and the seriously mentally ill from purchasing firearms. Under current law, checks are required only when guns are purchased from federally licensed firearms dealers. The proposal by Manchin and Toomey called for extending the requirement to other sales at gun shows and on the Internet.

On the vote, Democratic Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Max Baucus of Montana joined Pryor and Heitkamp in voting against the proposal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a supporter of the plan, switched his vote to the prevailing "no" side to permit him to call for a revote in the future.

Begich, Pryor and Baucus are all seeking re-election next year. In an indication of the intensity of the feelings on the issue, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal group, swiftly announced it would run ads contrasting their votes with polls showing overwhelming popular support for gun curbs.

Among Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John McCain of Arizona and Toomey sided with Democrats.

Numerous polls in recent months have shown support for enhanced gun control measures, including background checks, though it may be weakening.

An Associated Press-GfK poll this month showed that 49 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws, down from 58 percent in January. In that recent survey, 38 percent said they want the laws to remain the same and 10 percent want them eased.

Obama has made enactment of greater curbs a priority on his domestic agenda in the months since the massacre at Newtown, making several trips outside Washington to try and build support. Last week, he traveled to Connecticut, and he invited several parents to fly back to Washington with him aboard Air Force One so they could personally lobby lawmakers.

To an unusual degree for professional politicians, some senators said afterward that they had not wanted to meet with the mothers and fathers of the dead, or said it was difficult to look at photographs that the parents carried of their young children, now dead.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said before Wednesday's vote, "I think that in some cases, the president has used them as props, and that disappoints me."

Without referring to Paul by name, Obama rebutted him firmly. "Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don't have a right to weigh in on this issue?" he said.

At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney said some of them had met earlier in the day with lawmakers, who he said should "consider who they're representing.

"Ninety percent of the American people support expanded background checks," he said.

The NRA told lawmakers it intended to keep track of how the votes were cast, and consider them in making decisions about its efforts in the midterm elections for Congress next year.

An opposing group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, funded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said it would do likewise.

The NRA has a long track record in electoral politics, and is viewed by lawmakers in both political parties as unusually effective. Bloomberg's organization has yet to be tested.

In the AP-GfK poll, among independents, support for stricter gun laws dipped from 60 percent in January to 40 percent now. About three-fourths of Democrats supported them then and now, while backing among Republicans for looser laws about doubled to 19 percent.

The survey was conducted from April 11-15 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,004 randomly chosen adults and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman, AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta and news survey specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this story.

The Associated Press

President Barack Obama arrives to participate in a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House on Wednesday in Washington, about measures to reduce gun violence. With Obama is former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, left, and Mark Barden, the father of Newtown shooting victim Daniel.

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It's always the money

There's a huge hedge fund which has been trying to unload their gun manufacturer investments for a couple of months. Apparently the gun background check legislation prevented the deal from going through. Now the deal is on. These people have turned our Congress into whores. 9 out of 10 Americans favor increased background checks. Even a majority of NRA members favor universal background checks. The Supreme Court has already ruled more than once that Second Amendment rights are not unconditional and that criminals and persons who are unstable can be denied the right to own guns. Republicans are on the wrong side of this issue and the American people will get their way in the long run.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Teachers are heroes...Republicans are Cowards

The teachers of Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Newtown are the heroes that stood against the killers and gave their lives in defense of children. But here you have it, cowards of the Republican party and 4 Dems that are terrified of the NRA .

Here stands those cowards that cannot put the 90% of citizens that wanted to see Congress close the loopholes such as gun shows that allows anybody to buy guns. Here lies the irresponsible to even stand with no convictions to represent the people, but stand and represent only 4 million NRA members and hoping they get the payoff in donations and A ratings for their act of betrayal to the Americans who are going to die for their ignorance and cowardly actions.

We can only hope for what has fallen upon those Thousands that lost their lives that those Senators have the very taste of their failure in protecting the people, happens in their families lives to get the taste of reality.

The judgement day will come and they will face the wrath of the people they shoved aside for the NRA and not protecting the children and families from allowing anybody to buys guns unchecked.

Shame on them and all of you who care more for guns than the lives of mankind....

Noel Foss's picture

Interesting statement.

The majority of service men and women identify as either independents or Republicans; typically less than 10% identify as Democrats. Are they cowards? Are those who identify as Democrats braver for bucking the trend?

Perhaps "Politicians are Cowards" would be more accurate. The Republicans toed their party line (mostly) and the Democrats toed their party line (mostly). Not a whole lot of courage on either side, there. Just the same old push from each side in the same directions they always go.

Incidentally, Adam Lanza used a stolen gun, Seung-Hui Cho passed a background check (twice), and Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris used straw purchasers.
Now, I'll agree that the people killed in those incidents didn't deserve to be killed. But it's also extremely unlikely that expanded background checks would have kept these folks from getting the guns they used.
That being said, I supported Manchin/Toomey on the basis that it would have greatly strengthened the NICS system (though Obama's executive order on Jan. 16th regarding background checks was targeted at accomplishing the same basic goal), even though I disagreed personally with the restrictions on private sales.
In the wake of these votes, President Obama and his supporters have doubled down on gun control, and the gun rights crowd have doubled down on their opposition to new legislation. Politics as usual.
I agree that something needs to be done about gun violence in this country, but I'm pretty confident that nobody in Washington knows how to accomplish that goal, given the suggestions that have been tossed around in the past few months.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

To clarify;

I spoke of Politicians...I too agree that not all of those methods in place are 100% effective, but doing nothing is not a solution.

I call them as cowards kowtowing to the NRA all for the hopeful of "Please don't tread on me, NRA, I need your "A" rating and money and no opposition on MY re-election efforts to fill my purse.

This is the major cluster snafu....

Noel Foss's picture

Ah, I see.

Well, if it makes you feel better the NRA approach seems to be catching on among lobbyists. Just look at Michael Bloomberg's recent antics about holding Democrats responsible if they don't do what he wants.
I also agree that doing nothing isn't a solution, but neither is passing legislation just to look like they're getting something done. I only support universal background checks if they improve the NICS system, since otherwise it's an empty threat (a paper tiger, if you will) that inconveniences legal purchasers and doesn't do anything to slow the crooks down. Insisting on UBC's without improving reporting of the mentally ill or criminal histories isn't going to accomplish anything, but it'll make the gun control crowd pat themselves on the back, make the NRA gnash their teeth, and make the criminals laugh hysterically (There's been several studies done showing that only about 2% of felons bought their guns at a gun show).
Personally, if there's anything that'll help prevent mass killings, I think it's going to have to center on mental health.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Criminals can already buy

Criminals can already buy guns unchecked. Why is it so hard for you left wing lunatics to get that through your thick skulls?

Zack Lenhert's picture

Criminals can already buy

Criminals can already buy guns unchecked...

That's the problem. What are you proposing as a solution?

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Gun violence in the US is the

Gun violence in the US is the lowest it's been in 20 years. Sensationalism is at an all time high.

Zack Lenhert's picture

Gun violence in the US may be

Gun violence in the US may be at the lowest levels in 20 years, but we are still higher than most other developed nations.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

True, but most other

True, but most other developed countries aren't as diverse as the US. That might not be politically correct to say but it's the truth. Compare the gun violence of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to developed countries and the numbers are quite favorable. You can even throw in Montana and the Dakotas if you like.

Zack Lenhert's picture

So we should accept that the

So we should accept that the US will be more violent because we are more diverse? Poor excuse.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

actually it's called reality.

actually it's called reality. Our culture is nothing like that of Norway, Sweden, or Denmark and it's absurd to make such comparisons in regards to violence.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Here is reality: Mr legal user does no crime with gun. Huh!

DeKalb County police Sgt. Scott Biumi is charged with felony aggravated assault after allegedly pulling a gun on a customer in the drive-thru line of an area McDonald's on April 9. Video of the incident -- captured by security cameras at the restaurant -- appears to show a man in a business suit draw a gun and point it at a driver at the head of the line.

The driver, 18-year-old Ryan Mash, told NBC affiliate WIZ-TV that he had no idea the man was a police officer. According to Mash, the man accused him of "holding up the line," then got out of his car and threatened him by sticking a gun to his neck.

Scott Biumi, Georgia Police Officer, Allegedly Pulls Gun On Teen At McDonald's Over Slow Line


Zack Lenhert's picture

...its absurd to say we can't

...its absurd to say we can't reduce violence because we are "diverse".

"Our culture is nothing like that of Norway, Sweden, or Denmark and it's absurd to make such comparisons in regards to violence."

Yeah... no kidding. Our culture is more violent and gun happy than these countries, that's the problem.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Norway has some of the

Norway has some of the strictest gun laws in the world but that didn't stop a determined madman from slaughtering 77 people. No gun laws ever would or could.

Zack Lenhert's picture

Nobody is claiming that gun

Nobody is claiming that gun laws would prevent ALL gun crimes. Faulty logic.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Stricter gun laws wouldn't

Stricter gun laws wouldn't have prevented Newtown or probably any other recent shooting. Faulty logic is thinking more gun laws will prevent determined nuts from doing their thing.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Oh Wise one

Please pull out your crystal ball and tell us more about your enlightened views and predictions of would've, could've and should've'.....

You are so full of it, your eyes are dark brown and your breath really stinks.....

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

I think you just described

I think you just described Obama

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Did ya

say your momma?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


Because of those states laws and those responsible gun dealers that actually do the background checks.

You blindly think that they all do it and that is where your illogical rhetoric is missing the boat

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

More gun laws are definitely

More gun laws are definitely the answer, just ask Chicago and DC, lol.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Complacency is the Tbaggers way

His solution is none, he wants criminals to have guns so he can have the day he gets to play cops and robbers.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

You fail

To understand that if those gunshows had those backgrounds checks in place any criminal would not be going to an easy depot to buy them...DUH!

It then deters them from buying there and finding, other venues....if you are legal it does nothing to the good guys, but help curb the unlawful...

Your problem is your sandbox is so very small you can't see beyond the forest because the trees are in the way.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

The 90% statistic is complete

The 90% statistic is complete BS,.

Zack Lenhert's picture

Mitt Romney hasn't adjusted

Mitt Romney hasn't adjusted for the "liberal bias" yet?

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Romney is a jackass but the

Romney is a jackass but the liberal media bias is real.

Zack Lenhert's picture

...because comments on Yahoo?

...because comments on Yahoo?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

More damage control..oops

WASHINGTON -- Adolphus Busch IV, heir to the Busch family brewing fortune, resigned his position on the board of the National Rifle Association on Thursday, writing in a letter to NRA President David Keene, "I fail to see how the NRA can disregard the overwhelming will of its members who see background checks as reasonable."

The resignation, first reported by KSDK, came a day after the Senate rejected a series of amendments to a gun control bill, including a bipartisan deal to expand background checks for gun sales. The NRA had vigorously opposed all those measures.

"The NRA I see today has undermined the values upon which it was established," wrote Busch, who also dropped his NRA membership. "Your current strategic focus clearly places priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers while disregarding the opinions of your 4 million individual members."


Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Like I said, the 90%

Like I said, the 90% statistic is complete BS. Go read the comments on yahoo news.The opinions over there reflect 90% opposition to Obama's gun control legislation and the sample group is much larger and not hand picked. The solution is to enforce existing laws, not make new laws.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Blog comments are opinions, not stats...

The opinions over there reflect 90% opposition to Obama's gun control legislation ,those are opinions not polls...denial is not a river in Egypt...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

What's wrong

Cat got your tongue or you just can't get your foot out of your mouth or are you stepping on it, to have any proof otherwise?

Is this what Faux Noise washed in your [ empty skull ]. (as you put it in your other comment, Tbaggger)?

Please backup your rhetoric, or "Crickets"

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Only the lonely...do you feel smaller now....

Overall, only 7% said they actively opposed background checks.

Yepper skippy, you are the minority....

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Yes, and we already have

Yes, and we already have those. Next.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


They are not at the every gun shows, please don't insult my intelligence....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

In case you can't open URL's

Looks like President Obama was right when he said the majority of Americans support universal background checks for gun buyers—in a huge way. A whopping 90% of the public supports the idea, according to a new New York Times/CBS News poll, including 95% of Independents, 93% of Democrats, and 89% of Republicans. Even NRA members overwhelmingly supported the idea. Overall, only 7% said they actively opposed background checks.


JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Graph is pretty high for background checks HUH?


Poll CONFIRMS gun show background checks wanted,

FOX and CBS at the 89%, 90% mark.....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Here you go, maybe if you know how to read...


Google it and you will find more than this one, but FACTS are not what baggers can understand.....

 's picture

Rejection of the American People by the Republicans

Having suffered electoral defeats in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008, and 2012; The RNC has written a strategy manual for regaining the majority. But many analysts see the "befriend a Hispanic" strategy as more likely to force racists out of the party. Yesterday, Republican Senators adopted a different strategy. They decided to add to their coalition of corporate elitists & criminals, "small government" anti-Constitutionalists, and racists terrorists, gang-bangers, and felons by filibustering the expanded Background check and anti-gun trafficking bills. Now the Republican Party stands for crime and treason. Doesn't seem like a winning formula.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Great win for law abiding

Great win for law abiding American citizens. I suggest you liberal traitors keep your filthy hands off the 2nd Amendment from this day forward. You will not win on this issue, ever.


Actually, the only winners yesterday were seriously mentally ill people or convicted felons who want easy access to guns. As for your predictions that advocates of gun control will never win on this issue, let's just wait and see.


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