Obama attacks senators who rejected gun sale checks


President Obama: "All in all this was a pretty shameful day for Washington"

President Barack Obama has lashed out at senators who blocked a bipartisan plan to support expanded background checks on firearms.

"This was a pretty shameful day for Washington," Mr Obama said at the White House. "But this effort is not over."

Fifty-four senators backed the plan, but that was six short of the 60-vote hurdle needed to clear the chamber.

Gun rights groups hailed the defeat of the measure, arguing it would violate the right to bear arms.

The proposal, put forward as an amendment to a broader gun bill, sought to widen the current checks to include online and unlicensed gun show dealers.

President Barack Obama is campaigning for tighter gun laws after 26 people died in a school shooting in Connecticut in December.


In remarks at the White House with a family that lost a son in the Newtown massacre by his side, Mr Obama vowed to continue efforts on tighter gun restrictions.

"If this Congress refuses to listen to the American people... then the real impact is going to have to come from the voters," Mr Obama said, calling on those who supported the plan to let their senators know how disappointed they were.

Mr Obama argued those who voted against the Manchin-Toomey plan had been led only by politics.

file photo of handguns on display at the table of David Petronis of Mechanicville, New York 26 January 2013 The plan sought to expand checks at private and online sales

"Most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn't want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun."

Meanwhile, former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a vocal supporter of gun control after she was shot in the head in 2011 while meeting constituents in Tucson, in an attack that killed six people, accused lawmakers of "cowardice".

"These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending," Ms Giffords wrote in the New York Times.

The expanded system of background checks, which had been the centrepiece of the president's agenda, was blocked by most Senate Republicans and some Democrats.

US media reaction

The New York Times accuses the Senate of failing Americans, saying for 45 of them the carnage of Sandy Hook Elementary School is a forgotten tragedy.

Commentator Charles Krauthammer tells Fox News in video carried by National Review Online that the amendment would not have stopped Sandy Hook happening.

The Washington Post says the Senate has "misfired badly".

"An inglorious conclusion," is the view of the Huffington Post.

Plans for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines have already been removed from the gun-control bill, amid lack of political support. Similar measures failed as amendments on Wednesday.

A recent poll by CNN/ORC suggests that 86% of Americans support expanded background checks, but recent AP opinion surveys show support for generally stricter gun laws has dipped from a high of 58% in January to 48%.

Patricia Maisch, a survivor of the 2011 Arizona shooting that killed six people and severely injured former Representative Gabby Giffords, shouted "Shame on you!" from the Senate gallery as the bill was blocked.

The plan was considered as an amendment to a larger gun-violence bill in the Senate. The bipartisan deal was first brokered by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican Senator Pat Toomey.

'A lie'

On Wednesday, Sen Manchin said allegations by America's top gun lobby group, the National Rifle Association, that the proposal would require checks for sales and gifts between family and friends and lead to a national registry as "a lie".

He said: "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 and anybody who can read knows that is not factual."

Mr Obama also said the gun lobby had "wilfully lied about the bill" and that a vocal minority of gun owners had "intimidated" senators into voting against the plan.

The proposal had exempted transfers between family and friends, and had explicitly banned the justice department from setting up a national gun registry.

Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah told USA Today he voted against the amendment because it was too vague for law-abiding citizens to understand and too easy for criminals to avoid.

"The plan created more questions than it answered about which types of transfers are lawful without a background check and might ensnare law-abiding gun owners simply exercising their constitutional rights. It also left in place a number of gaps that could easily be exploited by criminals intent on obtaining guns."

In a statement, the NRA hailed the defeat of the amendment.

"As we have noted previously, expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools," said the statement.

Three other Republicans joined Sen Toomey in backing the plan - Arizona's John McCain, Maine's Susan Collins and Mark Kirk of Illinois.

Democratic Senators Mark Begich of Alaska, Max Baucus of Montana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mark Pryor of Arkansas voted against the measure. Senators Begich, Baucus and Pryor are all seeking re-election next year.


More on This Story

US gun debate


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 14.


  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    8.mscracker "You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but our Constitution gives us this right."

    Hey, Mrs Cracker. Your Constitution is not sacred. You can change it if you have the will. But I guess you prefer to see thousands of innocent people die every year instead. Shame on you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    It makes no sense to me people can legally own an assault rifle . To me though the anti gun brigade are becoming as bad as the NRA , playing on people's heart strings and pretending that every gun death would be a life saved without guns. It's a bit like when the anti smokers started telling as many lies as the tobacco companies. there's no point putting a toothless bill through just to feel good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Obama needs to keep up the heat. The only means forward we have now is to discredit the NRA in the eyes of the public. Until you do that your Democrats from states such as Alaska, Montana, the Dakotas, Arkansas, etc. are going to have their hands tied as people in those states practically revere the NRA. While upset then over this vote I understand these Senators difficult positions. Politics...

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    The point about this law was to stop people with mental-health problems and criminals from owning a gun - I honestly don't understand how anyone could have blocked this. I would have thought even the NRA lobby group would have some fear of massive assault rifles being in the wrong hands.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    The gun control legislation that the senate refused to pass was so watered-down and reduced to farce that its failure isn't worth getting excited about. It was a bandaid on a sucking chest wound.

    Real gun control will not exist until gun owners are required to assume liability for the use of their weapons through either mandatory insurance or tax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Sorry, but the people who want to keep their guns are just plain insane."
    You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but our Constitution gives us this right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    One little statistic that appears to have been forgotten in all this... that there have been 3000+ gun deaths in America in the 3 months since Newtown.
    Sorry, but the people who want to keep their guns are just plain insane. Of course, there will never be a time when nobody has a gun, but with very little effort, the possibility of being killed by some armed nutter could be drastically reduced.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Gallup poll on 04.12.13. show that only 15 % Americans support Congress ! President should use more Executive orders, Veto and deadline to be more effective!!! I gave my support to President to say NO to AR-15 or any other assault weapons in everyday life, and NO guns on Campus in ALL States. Gun control Law is so important for us, our children, for USA futures…

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Once again the GOP, aka loads of mostly white, middle aged, middle class men, make the wrong decision after spending hours talking only to people who are just like them......

    ....there's ging to be a big clear out of these idiots come the next mid terms, and not before time.....

    ....the Tea Party is dead, long live real democracy, not a distorted version paid for by the Kock brothers...

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Freedom has triumphed of Fascism, despite concerted efforts by Obama and his Socialist lackeys in the media. The government should fear the people and not the reverse. God bless the 2nd Amendment of our constitution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    It's tragic and shameful that the interests of gun manufacturers are more highly prized by political whores in Washington DC than the safety of the American people. It's just as well there isn't a lobbying group protecting the interests of the makers of bombs built out of pressure cookers or these political cowards would probably take their money as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Spineless morons

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    those six that voted against may never speak of the children shot dead in Newtown. If one word of sorrow about their deaths was to be uttered by any of the six it would be a blatant lie.


Page 14 of 14


More US & Canada stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.