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 174.

    Oh well, the gun control folks forgot that each Senator has his own constituency and while the voters in Illinois are overwhelmingly pro-gun control, those in much of the rest are not. This, senate rules maintained by both parties and the fact that the intensity of the gun rights folks is both proven and greater than that of the gun control crowd gave the expected result. With both sides lying...

  • Comment number 173.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    What many Americans feel is this is not so much about the background check
    as it is about an attack on Second Amendment

    I'm sure many foreigners think almost everybody in America owns a gun but this is not true

    In all my life the only people I have seen with guns are police or deer hunters

    I don't own a gun and I don't want one

    But I don't want to see them banned either

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    Sadly five and six year old children are just 'collateral damage' when it comes to protecting the US gun industry. In a country that holds itself up to be some kind of beacon for the world while you need a licence to drive a car anybody (no matter how damaged) can buy a semi automatic weapon and a high capacity magazine at a gun show. It's so misguided it's almost unbelievable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    I just really don't understand American culture. For example, what is wrong about having a gun registry? We have one in Canada and it doesn't 'infringe upon the rights' of people who wish to use a gun for recreational purposes. It allows the sale of guns to be managed and guns that are used in crimes to be traced. It also helps prohibit the sale of guns to people who are known to be violent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    It just shows how far America still has to go to become civilized. Also, perhaps those in the US who give money to the IRA will reflect on what happens with the money after Boston!

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    Good news, these NWO criminals are on the run! The Second Amendment is there to protect a free people from their government, and long may that continue!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Welcome to America, where it's more important to allow convicts to bear arms than protect children from gun violence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.


    The thing is, you don't even need to do away with the 2nd, just use some common sense when interpreting what the author was trying to do. In this case, the Militia, which is apparently required for a free state, mean that citizens have the right to keep and bear arms. This doesn't mean that citizens are obligated to keep and bear arms at all times, right?

  • Comment number 165.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    Again how any piece of paper can remove guns of any sorts from hands of criminals who haven't bough them in the 1st place?

    They banned booze at one time. Had it stopped people from drinking?

    No, it only created more criminals (bootleggers).

    Btw. These days almost anybody can print himsef any gun he/she wants on a 3D printer. Including those whose sales are banned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    The idea that a gun can protect your family is totally mad

    If you don’t believe me ask Oscar Pistorius

    If you want to protected your family buy them a bullet proof vest and fight for gun’s to be removed from your society

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    @155 For "politics", read "money and shame"

    If you vote against the NRA, they are prepared to take away their funding for your campaign and shame you in the press with whatever dirt they hold against you. They'll do anything they can (which is often enough) to elect your opponent in your next race.

    Why else would Senators vote against their constituents?

    That's how it works.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    This is madness,to say that the only way to stop these killings is to arm teachers has to be the most stupid idea ever to come our of the NRA,Why stop there? why not issue small arms to toddlers gradually getting bigger and more powerful as they grow.
    Crazy? of course it is but no more crazy than every teacher carrying a gun

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Can Americans please tell me why you need guns and we British don't need them? By this, I mean what is the justification in owning a gun except to kill someone? Shooting in sporting/hunting terms doesn't count in this context . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.


    First off we are not talking about "Assualt Rifles", its assualt LIKE rifles. Have the looks but not the full auto function.

    Based on your arguement and logic it would be equally "ridiculous" to say the 1st amendment covered emails, text messages, internet boards like this, etc. Since there is no way the forefathers could have predicted this technology.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    I don't remember many of these people kicking us a fuss when other connstitution right where taken away by bills such as the Patriot act

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    if they can repeal the second Amendment they could also repeal the first which is freedom of speech,press, right redress of grievances,peiceful protest. but they could also repeal the 13-15 which repealed slavery and gave African Americans rights. why not replete all the amendment that define people rights.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

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

    What politics those Democrats in the Senate who voted against that plan had been led by?


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