Senate rejects series of tougher gun-control measures

Did senators get it right or wrong? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the end of this story.
TNS Regional News
Apr 17, 2013


Gun control advocates led by President Barack Obama suffered a huge setback Wednesday as the Senate defeated a delicately crafted compromise aimed at strengthening background checks for gun buyers — and then proceeded to reject a ban on assault weapons and limits on ammunition clips.

The votes were a bitter reminder that winning even the most gentle of gun control measures faces a near-impossible path to winning congressional approval.

“All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” a clearly irritated Obama said after the background check vote.

Gun control backers thought this time might be different, that they could reverse the years of frustration getting meaningful gun control legislation approved. The horror of the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, where a gunman killed 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown, Conn., was never far from the minds of senators.

Victims of gun violence from Newtown, Tucson, Colorado and other sites of recent horrors watched the votes from the galleries. “Shame on you!” Patricia Maisch, a survivor of the January 2011 Tucson shopping center shootings, shouted as the Senate vote to reject the background check compromise was announced.

At the White House after the vote, Mark Barden, the father of a child killed at Sandy Hook, recalled how “we met with dozens of Democrats and Republicans, and shared with them pictures of our children, our spouses, our parents who lost their lives on December 14th. Expanded background checks wouldn’t have saved our loved ones, but still we came to support a bipartisan proposal from two senators.”

The disappointment and anger were clear. Obama had a personal lobbying effort unlike any seen by a president since the Clinton administration. After the background check defeat, he went to the Rose Garden, flanked by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Vice President Joe Biden, and put the blame for the defeat squarely on the gun lobby. Giffords was severely wounded in the Tucson incident.

“All that happened today was the preservation of the loophole that lets dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check,” Obama said.

“Instead of supporting this compromise,” he said, “the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. They claimed that it would create some sort of ‘big brother’ gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite.”

The strategy worked, Obama lamented. “Unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose, because those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners, and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators.”

To change Washington, he said, “You, the American people, are going to have to sustain some passion about this. And when necessary, you’ve got to send the right people to Washington.”

In vote after vote Wednesday afternoon, gun control backers came up short of the 60 needed for passage.

The background check compromise got 54 votes. The assault weapons ban got 40, even after Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., pleaded with colleagues to “show some guts.” The effort to put curbs on ammunition clips got 46 votes.

The votes largely reflected geography. Senators from more rural, more conservative states sided with gun rights advocates. Senators with more urban constituencies backed gun control.

Gun rights supporters tried to get some changes to the bill, and those too failed. A bid to expand concealed-carry laws got 57 votes. An alternative to the background check compromise got 52.

Many had thought the tortured memory of Newtown would finally help win at least the background check effort.

“If tragedy strikes again — if innocents are gunned down in a classroom or a theater or a restaurant — I could not live with myself as a father, as a husband, as a grandfather or as a friend knowing that I didn’t do everything in my power to prevent it,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

But conscience meant different things to different senators.

Reid’s Nevada colleague, Republican Sen. Dean Heller, was seen as a potential swing vote for the background check compromise. He voted no.

“The onerous paperwork and expansion of federal power mandated in this legislation are too great of a concern,” he explained in a statement. “I believe that this legislation could lead to the creation of a national gun registry and puts additional burdens on law-abiding citizens.”

That was the opponents’ chief complaint. The background check provision was viewed as a mild form of gun control. Crafted by gun rights backers Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., it would extend background checks to gun shows and online sales but would exempt private transactions.

Manchin, a National Rifle Association member, pleaded with colleagues to back the measure and said on the Senate floor that the NRA had lied about the measure’s reach.

“There is not a universal background check,” he said, answering critics. “There is nothing in this bill that basically says that you’re living in a neighborhood, and you want to sell your neighbor your gun, you can do it. No background checks are required.”

Other opponents argued that the Manchin-Toomey approach simply wouldn’t work.

“We should not further strain the existing broken system by expanding the use of an incomplete database to more transactions,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. “We should fix the existing system.”

Grassley and Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, offered an alternative that would increase the number of mental health records entered into the federal background check database.

The Senate voted on a host of other gun provisions. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, tried to require states to respect concealed-carry gun permits issued by other states. Cornyn, speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, insisted that it wouldn’t establish a national standard for concealed-carry.

“What it would do is to effectively treat concealed-carry licenses like a driver’s license,” Cornyn said. “If you’re driving from Virginia to Texas, you don’t have to obtain a separate driver’s license for each state you drive through.”

But Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., drew a line at his state’s border.

“Concealed-carry is my greatest worry,” he told reporters Tuesday. “The good news there is, instead of needing 60 votes, we need 41” to defeat the amendment.

The Senate also voted on a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines long sought by Feinstein. She had succeeded nearly two decades earlier getting an assault weapons ban passed and launched a forceful renewed effort after the Newtown shootings, but by Wednesday morning, she had all but conceded that the push would not succeed.

“Not every issue we vote on in the Senate is a life or death matter — I believe this is,” she said on the Senate floor. “I urge my colleagues to stand tall and support this amendment.”

But few senators were present — one was Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat who was presiding over the empty chamber. She voted no on Feinstein’s amendment.


By David Lightman and Curtis Tate - McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

©2013 McClatchy Washington Bureau

Visit the McClatchy Washington Bureau at

Distributed by MCT Information Services



So lame. So sad.


Funny, I remember the left tearing down GW and Dick Cheney for fun!!! Now that the roles are reversed, they get mighty angry.


Funny, I recall the right whining and crying and calling anyone that disagreed with the sitting president was unpatriotic and should either leave the country or be shot. Huh...


Tell that to the families of the victims of Sandy Hook.

tell it how it is

Honestly, if laws would WORK and make us safer, I'd be for them. I really would. However, they won't. It's plain and simple and anyone who honestly believes they will is ignorant beyond belief.
All they'll do is make each of us law abiding citizens in more danger then we already are. With everything going on in today's world (not just the US), I reserve the right to protect myself. Anyone who doesn't like that, go somewhere else.

Once they find a way to make ANY type of law regarding gun control work, I'll agree with it. But this wasn't it.


Why have any laws then ? Let everyone run amok .

tell it how it is

How many of our laws work?
Pretty sure bombs aren't legal sunshine, with OR without intense background checks. Guess what? They still caused devastation to our country.

Wake up.


So they shouldn't be illegal because bad people will get them anyway? Yeah, why should rape be illegal if rapists are going to do their thing anyway? Why should murder be illegal? Bad people are gonna do it anyway, right?
Now please, go sit in the corner.

tell it how it is

No hunny. Those are actions, not objects. That is an extremely invalid argument because they have nothing to do with one another. I can prevent rape with a gun. And murder is a very broad subject.


So bombs should be legal because they're an object. Gotcha.

hit the road jack

Don't you read the papers or see this driving around the big city of Norwalk?


They already have a background check system in place, for those of you who have never went and purchased a gun.


Is that brain from Big Lots you are working with? Must be!

tell it how it is

Yes they do, if you purchase from a store.

The part where this would NOT have worked, is it's too easy to then purchase the guns from other people. There's facebook pages and craiglist for this stuff. It will never go away. People will always sell their belongings to people who they don't know!


dumb dumb dumb

The NRA has made sure that straw purchases of previously owned weapons are perfectly legal. So I can go buy a gun at a store with a background check, then sell it to my crazy felon neighbor and the NRA thinks that is fine.


Food for thought ! Bomb Goes off, Blame the BOMBER. Mass shooting, BLAME The GUN. GET THE POINT..If a nut decides to kill someone, they are gonna do it one way or another.I would venture to guess that 95% of criminals obtain their guns by stealing them, or buying them from someone that stole them. THEREFORE , what the heck would more gun LAWS DO.. NOTHING, and thats my point..

tell it how it is

Thank you. I've been thinking about this quite a bit. Of course, I feel terrible for the families of Boston, but it proved the point for those against the gun laws. There's no stopping these tragedies. They'll happen one way or another.


Around 25% of criminals actually steal the guns they use . Most are bought through straw purchases , gun shows , online , through a relative or friend , or stolen . Pretty much in that order .

hit the road jack

And just what percent do you think would steal guns if they couldn't get them at gun shows or whatever?


So we should just let criminals purchase guns legally because they're gonna get them anyway. Brilliant argument.

hit the road jack

You can either let them buy them or steal them,take your pick Eienstein! You'd make a good Govt. employee you know it.


Porch Puppy, I heard this was you


Where is the source for your percentage?????


I have a concern with the hypocrates on the left side of conventional thinking. Under Obozo we are supposed not to judge all muslims by the acts of a few crazies on 911, but the acts of a few American crazies is enough to condemn all americans that own guns!!!!

Liberals: the number to call to express your distress is WHINE -1-1


I have a concern with people that try to use big words but fail. Watch the news sometime. There are shootings every single day that could have been easily prevented.
Try calling 1-800-spellcheck.


People die every day, you can't get out of life alive


None of the proposed laws will have any effect on the criminals, only the law abiding citizens.
"SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED" means the government can not restrict/limit the rights of the law abiding. Those who have been convicted in court may have their rights limited or removed through the sentencing process.
Some claim we have limits on the first amendment such as not yelling fire in a crowded theater. But they are wrong. Anyone can do so but the 1st amendment doesn't protect them from the consequences of that action.
The same applies to the 2nd in that criminal use is not protected.

It is about controlling us not about fixing the problem.
The same ones that want us to have background checks to exercise our GOD given right are the same ones that say it is racist to require showing your ID to vote!
Let anyone vote even if they already have or are not even a citizen but, restrict the exercise of the one amendment that guarantees that we can protect all of our rights as citizens

Having the government register firearms owners, is like having the fox guard the hen house.
The founding fathers knew better!
That is why it says "the RIGHT of the PEOPLE to KEEP and BEAR ARMS shall NOT BE INFRINGED.

The 2nd amendment has NOTHING to do with hunting or for self defense from criminals. It is about protecting our rights from the government.
Some that say the 2nd amendment should have limits since the 1st does, such as you can't shout fire in a crowded theater. That is not a limit, anyone can shout it but the 1st amendment doesn't protect you from the consequences of that misuse. The same applies to the 2nd in that there is no limits but also that the 2nd amendment doesn't protect you for misuse (murder).

It amazes me that the politicians pushing more gun controls and groups supporting them are the same ones that want abortions for any reason at any time.
In the US we have an average over 3,200 abortions a day, That equals 160+ Sandy hook shootings a day

For those that will jump on the "GOD" given right read this-

The Declaration of independence 2nd sentence is where the “GOD” given right originated,
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".
The greatest danger to American freedom is a government that ignores the Constitution."
Thomas Jefferson Third President of the United States
Obama seems determined to prove that quote!

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion."
Edmund Burke
British Statesman, 1784

NOW Obama has created the delusion he thinks will allow him to limit our rights.
We need to show him that he is delusioned.
We use guns every day to keep the government in check. That is why Obama wants to get them out of our hands.
As to people being suppressed, what do you think will happen when the government has no fear of the people?
Obama is starting to take the US further down the road to banning firearms.
Now for a reminder of what has happened in Countries that banned guns-
Disarming populations has resulted in the worst massacres in history:
1911 – Turkey disarmed its citizens, and between 1915 – 1917 they murdered 1.5 million Armenians.
1929 – Russia disarmed its citizens, and between 1929 – 1953 they murdered 20 million Russians.
1935 – China disarmed its citizens, and between 1948 – 1952 they murdered 20 million Chinese.
1938 – Germany disarmed its citizens, and between 1939 – 1945 they murdered 16 million Jews.
1956 – Cambodia disarmed its citizens, and between 1975 – 1977 they murdered 1 million Educated people.
1964 – Guatemala disarmed its citizens, and between 1964 – 1981 they murdered 100,000 Mayan Indians.
1970 – Uganda disarmed its citizens, and between 1971 – 1979 they murdered 300,000 Christians.


Please quote for me from the proposed bill where it outlaws guns , to law abiding citizens . It barely closes most of the current laws major loopholes .


Thank you. But you know, he spent a good half hour copying and pasting that from Alex Jones' website...poor guy.


I have no problem with making the Background checks available to individuals selling guns privately with NO fee, but you have a privacy concern in that they could be used for other then firearms sales.
The biggest problem I see is that the Government will try to use the NICS as a means to create a backdoor registration system for legal gun owners. Why else demand all sales HAVE to have a background check?
It was tried after it was first set up by the Clinton administration.
The attorney General refused to allow the checks to be erased every day as the Congress had required in the law when it was created.
He finally complied when threatened with a contemp of congress charge. Our current Attorny General, Erik Holder already has such a charge against him, so what would stop him from doing the same thing?
And for those who say we already have registration, that is in certain states under state law. We do not have a National registration.
The 2nd amendment is the GUARANTEE we have of keeping all the rights listed in the Constitution and remember that those not listed are reserved to the people not the Government.