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.
MCT 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 www.mcclatchydc.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Comments

arnmcrmn

Gallup poll put 4% wanting tougher gun control. Yup, that sure is the majority....only in a liberals world.

betrump

Gallup Poll: Ninety-one percent favored universal background checks!!!!!! Stop the stupid. Go away. Nothing but lies, and more lies. Just...go...away.

hit the road jack

WAAAAAAAAA!

betrump

Lies and more lies...when you get called out on your lies it's "waaaa!" That's appropriate. I expect nothing else.

Contango

The vote against was a BI-PARTISAN effort.

When inquiries were made about ammunition and MRAP purchases by Homeland Security, Ms. Napolitano essentially told Congress to GTH.

TRUST is a two-way street.

http://www.thenewamerican.com/us...

Regardless, this Admin. has repeatedly demonstrated that it will pick and choose how and which laws it will and will not enforce.

Background check definition creep:

Have you EVER criticized the U.S. govt.? Yes?

You ‘may’ be what WE define as a terrorist. No firearm for YOU!

Never say: It can’t happen here.

jack langhals

Nut case Joe says you can shoot your shotgun through the door.That should eliminate any door to door sale people !

Firelandsobserver

This is laughable really. Some of the outcry here supporting the blockage of the bill are sounds coming from the same people whose commentary on articles written here about criminals are completely the opposite, whether it be regarding drugs, sex or violence the rhetoric is always the same; to condemn the and punish the offenders. Here a measure to protect the public is placed forward and its thwarted effort if praised? Benjamin Franklin I think summed it up perfectly when he said "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

KURTje

People hate truth & love their lies.So maybe when you see Phil S. on 113 or Sandhill you could ask him. (the guy who works baling hay for a living) Opps..you lack a DD-214, again my error.

hit the road jack

How do you know I don't have a DD-214? You know what their good for? next time you go to out house take it with you. and yes I do know Phil.

betrump

You probably DON'T, because if you DID, you would know it's a DD-214, not a DD-14.

hit the road jack

Why don't you go pound sand up your azz pal,your a blowhard if I ever seen one!

betrump

Classy! Perfect example of a conservative in 2013.

hit the road jack

Thats right you left wing blowhard!

KURTje

So now you don't respect military. Phil could easily pound your carcass & you know it. As old as he. People like him & I have done & seen more than you ever did. Now pay that M. school tax since you don't own more than eighty acres, or you aren't old enough for the other break.

hit the road jack

Never said I didn't respect people who were in military,just not the military itself anymore,look at the clowns running the military now! they use you as test rats on vaccines and all kinds of crap and for the life of me can not figure out why ANYONE would send their kid into the military with this kind of $hit going on.
I doubt you and phil done or seen more than me,and I do know phil better than you think! and have known him for many years,which don't mean $hit either.

betrump

Laughable. What were you doing when I was fighting in the Persian Gulf war? You don't have a clue what respect is.

arnmcrmn

Once again, the liberals post and no links (betrump)......

Heres a couple for you betrump....About 85 percent of officers say the passage of the White House’s currently proposed legislation would have a zero or negative effect on their safety.http://www.policeone.com/Gun-Leg...

Gallup: Only 4% of Americans Think Gun Control is an Important Problemhttp://cnsnews.com/news/article/...

More people are concerned about our nations problem with jobs and the economy and rightfully so.....see gallop poll.

So betrump, you see us Republicans could play that same card you liberals play and say something like "Its shot down, get over it.....next.....told you so....etc", but I'll stay on the classy side like I always do. Post facts, keep it real and won't insult you.......I'll let you be your own worst enemy....lol.

betrump

And you turn around and insult me on another story. Could it get any more fake? And you can post all the links you want; the point is, I said over 80% of Americans want background checks, and you said I was lying and made it up. Your poll of 'only 4% think gun control is important' is a totally different question. See, that's what makes your argument stupid. How can you not see the stupidity in your argument? Please, tell me!

arnmcrmn

Its amazing to....saw something on facebook which was spot on. Bombing in Boston....blame the bomber. 9/11.....blame the terrorists. Drunk driver kills someone....blame the driver......Someone shoots up a school.....blame the gun???? ONLY in a liberals world does this make sense.

betrump

Another dumb argument. You say 'guns don't kill people, people kill people.' So we say, 'OK, lets have mandatory background checks on those PEOPLE.' And you say 'NO! THAT'S UNCONSTITUTIONAL!'

The dumb just never stops.

Whitebuffalo

It's about time something that made sense was done by the Senate!! Now we can work on making all the pressure cooker buyers get background checks and may be a few more immigrants too!! LOL

betrump

Eh, I'm sure it was funny in your head.

betrump

GUN NUT ARGUMENTS:
"Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People"
I almost didn't include this, because it's such a silly and empty dodge of the real conversation behind it. I hear and read it so often, though, that I decided to include it. You can tell by you reading this now. Here I am, including it.
Now, people DO kill people. That much is true. It has always been true, before we even had tools; Before we were even people. And that killing truth is indeed part of the problem. Humanity is persistently inconsistent and complex, even in the reasons we kill: desperation, survival, anger or accident, to name a few of the big ones. Insanity, too, to name the currently most relevant one. Bottom line, though, is that many of us are killers. It's what half of the above saying means: Human nature is deeply intertwined with violence and killing, and we as a species need to evolve past that in order to move forward into the vast playground of the Universe.
Yes, people kill people, and that is terrible. But guns? Guns also kill people. The first gunpowder weapon to exist is the fire lance, and it was created by the Chinese around the 12th century. The first description of their use was in the Shou Cheng Lu, an account of the siege of De An in 1132. It describes the Song forces using fire lances against the Jurchens, presumably because they were such jerk-ens. Since the beginning, guns were invented by the people, for the people, to kill the people. They puncture your flesh until you die. That's what they're for. Yes, guns can also be used for hunting. Killing people, and killing animals. Guns don't do anything other than kill. Guns kill. That's, like, the entire point of their existence.

betrump

So the true saying here isn't "Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People." That's, I'm sorry, REALLY stupid. It should actually read "Guns Kill, and People Kill People." If the problem is really "people kill," then the solution shouldn't be "Here, people. Have this instrument that makes it super easy to kill." If we perpetuate the thought that kill instruments are OK, we will never be able to evolve past our violent roots. "People Kill People" will always be true as long as we create and nourish a culture where killing is an option.
One could say, though, that killing is always an option, even without guns. There are countless tools at our disposal that could double as instruments of death. So ...

betrump

"Fire and Drugs Kill People, Too. You Wanna Outlaw Matches and Drugs?"
As far as that first bit is concerned, I couldn't agree more. Fire and drugs kill people. I am so agreeing with that right now. But, for instance this article written by gunnut Scott L. Bach, president of guns and stuff, he puts forth an argument in favor of guns and stuff that takes it too far. It is a very common yet very broken argument, so I'll just copy/paste it for you right here:
"When an arsonist lights a match that burns a building, is the match at fault? Are match manufacturers responsible for the fire? Should laws be passed prohibiting you from having and using matches, or restricting which types you can have, and in what quantities?
"The obvious answer to these questions is no. The same match that is misused by the arsonist lights the fireplace that warms us, and the stove that feeds us. The match has no mind of its own. It is not an evil invention. Its purpose is to ignite, nothing more. If it is misused, the solution is to punish the individual wrongdoer. Everyone else should be left alone.
"The same is true of firearms."
OK. Simply put, "Nuh-uh."
A match has many uses completely unrelated to causing death. A match is not manufactured or intended for death. And the same goes for drugs (unless of course you're talking about the death of the walls confining us to our limited understanding of perception, man). In fact, the same goes for basically anything other than a firearm. Tools are misused to kill people, it's true. But tools are meant for something else entirely. Tools build and fix and aid and improve. Firearms do not. If used correctly, a firearm is meant to, in an instant, kill or destroy something. If a gun is used incorrectly, it would actually mean that something doesn't get shot.
Again, I'm not saying we should outlaw guns. But the conversation can't progress if people keep using arguments that ignore what guns actually are, and what they are used for. Likening a gun to a match or recreational drugs or an icicle or [anything else that can cause death] is an attempt to lighten the weight of a firearm's actual purpose. Guns and [anything else] are not the same. They should not be discussed as though they are.

Oh, right, what of me and my situation with my kids? What of the people who use guns to stand in the way of those who would use them for killing? "What of those people?" I am forcing you to ask right now. Because guns don't only kill. There's hunting (read: killing), target practice (read: practicing killing) and defense! Forgot about defense! Yeah! That's the one! Defense! Because as we all know ...

betrump

"Guns Save Lives."
After the Aurora shooting, some are saying that the tragedy could have been avoided if someone in that audience had been holding a gun. Ignoring the intense panic and huge crowd, the tear gas filling the theater and the body armor the shooter was wearing, sure, maybe someone could have gotten a good shot off. After all, there are many success stories of defensive gun uses, or DGUs. Around the Internet, many people toss around the number "2.5 million," as in "There are 2.5 million DGUs a year." That's quite a lot of lives possibly saved. Now compare it to, say, the 75,684 gun-related injuries back in 2000, or the 31,224 gun-related deaths in 2007. Two and a half million! Wowzers!
Except "2.5 million" comes from a single study back in 1993. A study that involved calling 4,977 people across the country, asking them a few gun questions and then adjusting the number to fit the population of the whole country. The number is both highly cited and highly disputed. Not only are the figures not enough to make an accurate estimate (other studies range from 50,000 to 2 million), but the results don't actually translate to "lives saved thanks to gun use." They refer to a gun being involved in the presumed protection of a person or thing. This could be a life-threatening situation or a situation where a gun wasn't needed at all. DGUs include people who were in actual danger of losing their lives, as well as people who were George Zimmerman. Regardless, the general consensus is that 2.5 million is a gross exaggeration.
Getty
So we have a mixed bag of "guns saving lives" scenarios. In some cases, guns will stop a crime. In others, guns will kill a maybe criminal. In others still, they will be a part of a terrible accident. It's quite a gamble. Like Russian roulette, only no one knows they're playing it. And now, since the Dark Knight shooting, gun sales have gone up thanks to a healthy dose of fear. More potential to save a life, and just as much more potential to end one. I of course don't want to belittle the success stories, though. A life saved is fantastic, and however many lives saved is however many fantastics.
But the real problem with a "guns save lives" argument is the language used. People talk about "defensive gun uses" and their right to defend themselves and their property. But there's actually nothing defensive about a gun. They are all ATTACK. They are made and used for offense. "Defense," on the other hand, is resistance against an attack. Defense is protection, something that STOPS an attack. Wearing a condom is defense, whereas punching yourself in the crotch is offense. Protection is a bullet-proof vest, or mace, or a security system. A gun is not defense. The widespread use of an actual defensive weapon would potentially save more lives than a gun because, again, guns are for killing, not protecting. The sooner we are all provided a weapon LIKE a gun that merely incapacitates a person, the sooner we can safely defend ourselves, instead of defending ourselves by killing each other.

betrump

"Well, the Second Amendment Says ..."
Stop it. Technically yes, the Second Amendment says what you were going to say before I cut you off, but stop it. I'll tell you what the Second Amendment says.
"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."
There's quite a lot of debate over what this actually means, and many will argue that the amendment only refers to people in a militia. So if you're not in a militia, then you should not have a gun. Except in 2008, the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects the right of an individual to possess a firearm. So there. The Second Amendment wins. You can grab your gat and go get your kids back now.
Except that court ruling doesn't have as much meaning as you think, in the long run. The very nature of the Constitution is not permanent. We're talking about the Second Amendment, after all. The Constitution is supposed to be amended. Not only that, it's supposed to be completely rewritten. Take it from Thomas Jefferson:
"Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of nineteen years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, and not of right."
Our Constitution, of course, has not been rewritten in more than 200 years (read: ever). But people change, and nations change. Ideals and rights change. Life was, ya know, totally way different 230 years ago. It's quite possible that the people no longer require or even want every citizen to have the ability of point-and-shoot death. We should also consider what "bear arms" meant when it was written. Back then, guns were muskets, and muskets could fire about three incredibly inaccurate rounds per minute. Today, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle can shoot off more than 60 rounds per minute with extreme accuracy, and reload in seconds. Perhaps it's time to reevaluate our needs and freedoms. In fact, regardless of the gun control issue, perhaps we're about 200 years late on reevaluating our needs and freedoms.
All I'm really asking is that when the conversation starts, let's actually have it. These basically meaningless phrases always seem to stop the conversation from even beginning. Let's move past that, and really look at ourselves and our country and our planet and our future. Let's consider who we are on a larger scale, and who we want to be, and where we are headed.

betrump

Thank you, Cody Johnston! And Armcorn, only in a reactionary republican world can this truly be disputed...

hit the road jack

And just where do you think this country would have been if every tom,dick and harry decided every 10 years we need to change this or that in our by-laws or constitution? same place as Mexico or Guatemala or every 3rd world country! THE ONLY REASON THIS COUNTRY EXISTS IS BECAUSE OF OUR CONSTITUTION!
Now you blowhard progressives can just crawl back into your molehole and die and rot.

betrump

Remind yourself of that the next you knee jerk reactionaries want to deny people the right to marry via constitutional amendment.

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