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.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Sadly it's all about money with some senators. Americans needs guns like they need a nut and bolt through their necks.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    As a non-American, probably exceptionally, I respect that the right to bear arms is important to many Americans and makes up a part of their culture. Naturally, I can imagine why there would be so much outrage against increased regulation of dubious effectiveness in preventing the attacks we've seen. The vast majority of gun owners use that right responsibly and should not be punished by extremes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    "WAKE UP YOU GUN NUTS YOU ARE KILLING YOUR CHILDREN!!" That statement is the perfect example of emotion over facts or reason. The annual death rate for children from autos is multiples higher than from fire arms but all focus is on guns because it's much more dramatic. We'd do better solving for national mental healthcare than ineffective gun laws targeting mentally ill people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Congress will ALWAYS side with the money. It never fails. If the interests of the public are ever at risk from Big Oil, Big Union, Big Pharm, Big Guns, Big Farm, Big Insurance or Big Bank the Senate and House will always protect who paid to get them elected. This is the reality living in America. Most citizens probably don't realize that all the pork riders added to laws are put there anonymously.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    So many people know so little about firearms laws. Internet sales are subject to background checks. You have to pay someone with an FFL to do it. Since you have to clear a background check to get a concealed carry license, why doesn't that exempt one from an additional background check and the fee that goes with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    "This has got to change."

    This is a bad argument. No system of laws will entirely remove the possibility of things going badly wrong. The fact that things still go wrong is not a good argument to increase control and remove freedom. At some point you have to make do with the world being somewhat imperfect

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    In terms of the freedom to carry automatic weapons I wonder how many more of America's children have to die before the death toll does become unacceptable?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    The Connecticut in December was a horrible act BUT let's not forget how it can about. It happened not from the shooter going and buying a weapon BUT from an irresponsible person allowing the mentally unstable person to have easy access to the weapons. If you purchase a weapon of any kind, would it not be the buyers responsibility to secure the weapon not the government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Guns don't kill people-PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE.
    Last week a nut goes on a stabbing rampage in TX What is Obama going to do about that? Require background checks for purchases of silverware in Walmart??
    I own several guns LEGALLY, I have a permit to carry concealed and do so. You can't pass laws on the unlawful, they don't give a hoot. I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    I am starting to agree with the sentiment that NRA supporters are loons! Why do hunters & home protectors need assault weapons? What's wrong with making online gun sales subject to background checks? Children died in a school shooting. Those children don't have freedoms anymore - they are DEAD!!! So is the mother who armed her unbalanced son ... she was his first victim. This has got to change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    The US Constitution may not be "sacred" but it does define our laws.Most of us in America appreciate that&believe the Constitution protects our freedom & liberty.I wouldn't want to exchange that for another form of govt. even tho a free society comes with certain risks. A totalitarian govt may remove those risks but @ what cost?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    The irony of those shouting that somehow their constitution is somehow sacred and unchangeable, seem to forget that the " right to bear arms " was an AMENDMENT.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    I can remember as a young boy on my way to manhood, growing up in Australia, so much in awe of America, with its different legalities that , either way, allowed a man to own and carry a handgun, heck, it was cast in law! I have always been a small man and a gun seemed like a fantastic
    way to "keep the balance", many thanx for no guns, I could have killed dozens

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    To understand the outcome you have to know how the US Senate works.As a body it's probably the most undemocratic chamber in the Western World. Each State has two Senators,however 50% of all members represent less than 20% of the entire US population,because there is no relationship between demographics and the amount of Senators per State, who are more interested in survival than the majority.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    "there's no point putting a toothless bill through just to feel good." Well said, Billy!

    By Liberal logic because 90% of citizens supported the gun bill it should have been passed should also mean that because citizen support for Obama Care was less than 40% it shouldn't have passed.

    Our government was formed as a democratic REPUBLIC for a reason because people make emotion driven decisions

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    There is a solution, or a group of measures that can be taken without affecting anyone's right to own any firearm they choose thus keeping the 2nd amendment intact. 1. All firearms should be insured making the owner liable for any damage caused in the same way cars are insured. 2. firearm ownership will require at least 1 month/year of militia training with the army.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Many Americans don't support any bills that congress or the senate are trying to pass, because the bulk of it is not being laid out for the public to see first. Also, none of these laws would have stopped Newtown from happening. Just like Lanza, many criminals get their guns through illegal means, aka stealing them. Laws should not be knee-jerk reactions to tragedy, that how the PATRIOT act passed

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Even the liberal Washington Post stated that the proposed law wouldn't have stopped Newtown or Aurora or Columbine or VA Tech because criminals and mentally ill people don't buy guns. They steal them. We'd do better requiring that gun owners store their weapons in a locked gun safe and charging the gun owners if proved the safe wasn't used thereby allowing a criminal or mentally ill to take it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    @ Stefan Zeiss
    'Freedom has triumphed of Fascism, despite concerted efforts by Obama and his Socialist lackeys in the media. ......'

    That makes no sense, can't be fascist and socialist it's two opposing ideologies. Also republican senators voted against the wishes of 87% of Americans as expressed in the polls, so the people didn't win, democracy very much lost..


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