With gun violence victims’ families watching from the visitors’ gallery, the US senate on Wednesday defeated the first legislative attempts, since the December massacre, to strengthen the gun control laws.
The most important of them, one which had some chance of getting passed, an amendment to expand background checks also failed to get the senate’s nod despite its bipartisan sponsors.
The move to ban military-style automatic weapons and high capacity magazines used in most mass shootings was also defeated.
Before the senate was a bill, which was so stringent that it was bound to fail, and, therefore, the nine proposed amendments to it, including the one on expanding background checks, were not passed. Each amendment needed 60 of the 100 votes, to pass. “We are not defeated, and we will not be defeated,” said Mark Barden, at a White House event, with President Barack Obama. He lost his son Danny in the Sandy Hook shooting.
President Obama could hardly conceal his anger and frustration. “It was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” he railed, accusing the gun lobby of “willfully lying” to beat the vote.
Polls had shown 90% of Americans favouring extended background checks. And Obama said senators who voted against the amendment were not speaking for their voters.
The vote was a defeat for the president, who made gun control a second term’s priority, in the aftermath of the massacre of 20 children and six educators in Newtown in December.
“Never before had President Barack Obama put the moral force and political muscle of his presidency behind an issue quite this big — and lost quite this badly,” said Politico. Expanded background checks would have covered sale of guns on the Internet and at gun shows. Critics said the law would have criminalised innocent transactions between law abiding citizens.