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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US gun debate


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  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    The US view on guns is like the UK view on dogs. Totally irrational and based on numerous cultural and historic factors. Anything that is seen as an attack on the ownership of guns is seen by many in the US in the same way as curbing dog ownership in the UK. Most people in the UK are not pro dogs that injure children but when you try to legislate...

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    27. Gabriel Oaks
    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?


    I suggest you have some knowledge of the subject before posting:
    Automatic weapons are expensive, rare & very highly regulated.
    More children drown in paddling pools than ever get shot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    The China tariff sounds attractive but would invoke reciprocal so a mute point. (damage control?)
    Agree with your quip re. corps./lobbyists, but I think that is a cross-party thing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    106.BBC Fan

    The consitution is about interpretation, you and many others interpret Second Amendment to read that you may keep and bear arms whenever you like. Some take the whole passage, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." and interpret it differently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Ref 98
    Thank you for your input.Do agree with you.Am sure you are correct.Such weapons are very expensive and not too common.Even in the USA
    Which begs the question.,....Why not make them illegal to buy.ot to sell...

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    Sanity reigned today and the real will of the people to not be governed by authoritarian knee-jerk reactions which will only hurt the people they purport to help was respected.

    I'd give my usual essay, but most of the people here haven't learned from their own increase in gun violence after they banned self-defense. (I'm looking at you britain and australia).

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    Firstly, IMO, a better approach would be to increase the focus on enforcing the laws already in place. There appears no political appetite to do this.

    Secondly, the vast majority of crimes are internally gang related. New laws will not change this. In fact, crimes will increase as gun running will be added to the list of criminal products like drugs and extortion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    People attacking the NRA and those Senators who voted against these laws need to really read suggestions made by the NRA. The NRA is NOT a bunch of crazy lunatics, as is often portrayed in the media. It is an organization whose members include Policemen, members of the Armed Forces, Lawyers, Mums, Dads, and people like you and I. We are not "gun nuts" but responsible, sane people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    2 Hours ago
    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.

    Did I get it wrong, or is it the right to be insane?

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    "When you channel surf on American TV during primetime you'll notice a significant number of shows depicting gun violence. Apparently the US is not a violent nation - it just plays one on TV."

    It is intriguing how all the vocal anti-gun actors and entertainment moguls glorify and exploit gun violence as entertainment for profit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Super PAC's and Lobby Groups are all powerful
    They control all politicians and demand their interests, and only their interests are served by them
    Everything else is just talk
    Tax Credits, Breaks and exemptions are Corporate Entitlements
    The NRA are up there with Oil, Pharm., Banks & Insurance
    They get what they want & the people get the shaft

    An armed guard in every school will boost profits

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Bulldog: Obama also had to deal with a crippling recession

    All Obama had to do was put tariffs on goods from China, pass universal health care and expire all Bush Jr tax cuts

    He did none of the above

    When Obama was elected, he had Democratic majority in House and Senate

    The problem with Obama is that he has the wrong agenda+
    that he doesn't put Americans before corporations+lobbyists

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    I don't know the actual numbers of debt, but I do know infrastructure spending is better than creating enemies abroad spending.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    When you channel surf on American TV during primetime you'll notice a significant number of shows depicting gun violence. Apparently the US is not a violent nation - it just plays one on TV.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    LucyJ has her own view of what facts are, LOL Bush started two wars and I fail to see what that has to do with the shameful actions of politicians who voted against extending the scope of background checks when a person buy's a gun
    Politicians are afraid that they will not have the corporate Super PAC's to pay for their advertising and pay for ad's against the opposition
    TheY are all CORRUPT!

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    Hows about a referendum - let's find out what people really want?

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    @62. John Campbell
    The senators who voted against, will no doubt give all concerned ,a coherent and sensible explanation as to why anyone in the USA needs to have access to an assault rifle.
    But,suspect they will stay silent on this subject.


    Don't believe the propaganda: Owning an assault rifle in the US is exceedingly rare, expensive & not at all easy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.


    Obama also had to deal with a crippling recession and part of the tab for an unjust war.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Aotearoa - you have a valid point. I just know that departments are able to take some action that is not impeded by legislation (like EPA did). Don't feel too confident about your right to privacy, however. There are publicly accessible databases that let the whole world know where you live, what crimes (felonies or misdemeanors) you have ever committed, the names of your kids, almost everything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    78. You
    Your comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.
    Consideration is a wonderful thing, i often consider if your topics are reflective of your funders concerns, or you consider your advertisers even more, or consider if my licence fee is value for money but cannot consider if i can pay it or not. Mr Obama seems a fair man, he would be outraged.


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