Trending Topics

Obama Marks ‘Shameful Day’ as Gun Control Bill Fails in Senate

obamabidenAfter all the lobbying and speeches, all the tears and pain, it appears that the Senate couldn’t summon the will to beat back the gun lobby and pass any gun-control legislation, sparking anger from President Obama and gun-control advocates gathered at the White House.

Obama called it “a pretty shameful day for Washington.”

The measures went down in rapid succession — the bipartisan compromise to expand background checks for gun buyers, the ban on assault weapons and on high-capacity gun magazines. Democratic leaders once again acceded to the requirement that important legislation must get a 60-vote super majority to pass, and they all fell several votes short as all but four Republicans voted along party lines and four Democrats from gun rights states voted against the legislation.

In addition, Republican proposals to expand permission to carry concealed weapons and to focus law enforcement efforts on prosecuting gun crimes were also defeated.

The measure that appeared to have the best chance of failure, a bipartisan bill written by Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania to expand background checks, failed by a vote of 54 in favor and 46 against. Expanded screening of gun buyers is supported by 91 percent of U.S. voters, including 88 percent of gun-owning households, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted March 27-April 1.

But in the end 46 senators decided they couldn’t withstand the threats by the NRA to fight against them when they come up for reelection. That threat was particularly acute for Democrats Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Max Baucus of Montana, who all face tough 2014 reelection fights in pro-gun states that  Obama lost by wide margins.

Four Republicans voted “yes:” Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, a co-author of the legislation; John McCain of Arizona; Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois; and Susan Collins of Maine.

After they couldn’t get all the Democrats in their corner, the White House was resigned to defeat.

“We’re gonna get this eventually,” Vice President Joe Biden said before ceremonially presiding over the vote. “If we don’t get it today, we’ll get it eventually.”

Survivors of recent mass shootings and their family members crowded the Senate gallery during the vote, raising tension and emotion on the floor to uncomfortably high level. When the measures failed, Lori Haas, whose daughter was shot at Virginia Tech, and Patricia Maisch, a survivor of the mass shooting in Arizona, shouted together, “Shame on you.”

“The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” when they continually suggested the bill would lead to a national gun registry, “even though it did the opposite,” the president said at the White House.  Those lies upset “an intense minority of gun owners” who then demanded their Senators oppose the proposal.

“Fact is,” he said, “most of these senators couldn’t often (give) any good reason” to oppose the bill. So, worried about re-election, they “started looking for an excuse — any excuse — to vote no.”

The president asked voters to contact their elected officials and let them know they were disappointed — and to remember that displeasure at election time.

Describing the gun rights’ advocates, the president said, “they’re better organized, they’re better financed, they’ve been at it longer, and they’ve made sure to stay focused at election time.”

Obama praised the strength of the families of victims and pledged that his administration would do what it could to curb gun violence.

“Sooner or later,” he said, “we’re going to get this right.”

The measure apparently will be reintroduced in the future, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he would put the gun package back on the floor for consideration.

Some senators posited that many of those who opposed the measure chose to make a stand on the upcoming immigration reform bill over gun control, figuring that they would vote “yes” on immigration but couldn’t risk two difficult votes so close together.

What people are saying

Leave a Reply

Back to top