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

1. There are 279 million estimated civilian owned firearms in America.

2. The United States is #1 in the world when it comes to gun ownership, however we are not even in the top-25 when it comes to gun murder rate.

3. 2.5 million is the estimated number of incidents where a gun was used defensively to stop a crime in the US in 2011.

4. In 2011, ALL RIFLES (including the AR-15) were involved in fewer homicides than blunt objects, fists, or knives.

5. In 2011, 1.5X as many homicides were committed with blunts objects as rifles, 2.2X as many homicides were committed with fists, and 5.2X as many homicides were committed with knives.

6. Only 2.6% of all murders in 2011 involved a rifle.

In 2011 alone, peoples fists killed more people than a rifle by 2.2x. Knives 5.5x. So what you are saying betrump is that all of that is okay and fine and dandy....but lets go after AR-15's, which have killed less people each and every single year.

How about we do some background checks on anyone that gets a knife? Makes total sense in your world right? I mean, knives do kill 5.5x as many people than rifles.

How about background checks on fists. Seems fitting!

You see betrump, information is a "you know what". I can post one link, like I did below and just kill any tantrum postings you have made addressing this topic and rifles and guns.

So go on with your bad self and start attacking me. When you can't win, attack.....right?

http://www.redstate.com/2013/04/...

betrump

Ok, just glancing at your rant shows you're crazy. For instance, your #2 point: http://www.washingtonpost.com/bl...

betrump

You can find these stats all over the web; there are many, all stating the same thing. (That you are completely wrong!)

betrump

And obviously, you didn't read what I posted, as I addressed your silly argument about banning knifes, hammers, and pressure cookers. You're making up your own facts, and you're just arguing to be argumentative.

arnmcrmn

and I made up my own facts.....wow....I guess you can't read.

betrump

#3 is totally false, too. A wild guess, as I mentioned before.

arnmcrmn

please betrump.....proof from a credible source....not some off the wall site that hand picks its data. Where is the proof #3 is false too. Like I said, just keep running your jibs......

betrump

I already posted it. You just didn't read it.

arnmcrmn

Your post is weak. The countries they picked on the chart don't have nearly the population that the United States does. Why isn't Russia on there.....oh thats right, they are communist and considered to be "not developed".....

Come with something other than HUGLY SLANTED link.....made by a bleeding heart liberal to fit their agenda and point.

propman

Arnmcrmn, Betrump is like an inhabitant in a 2 dimensional world, they can only see what is in that plane and anything that crosses it is invisible.
The only difference is that Betrump is willfully blind or living in another world all together.

betrump

Hugly(sp)slanted link...bleeding heart liberal...

Okay, but you give a link from CNS news. To top if off, it is blatantly deceiving. It says, and you repeat it, that only 4% of Americans think guns are a problem. That is a total lie. The question from the survey is WHAT IS AMERICA'S BIGGEST PROBLEM? The question does not ask DO YOU THINK GUNS ARE A PROBLEM?...and then 96% say no. That is how the crazies on the right want you to think, and guess what? You fell for it!

arnmcrmn

Americans think we have more pressing issues than gun control.....and its not even close..thats what my link showed. Thanks for playing again.

betrump

So in other words, you're flat out wrong, but you can't admit it. Americans think it is an important issue, just not THE most important issue (the economy)so you wrongly assume that 96% of Americans think guns are not an issue at all. If you can't admit the silliness of that kind of thinking, then you are seriously the biggest problem America has: ignorance and unwarranted pride.

betrump

New numbers to discredit you again: In 2010, across the nation there were only 230 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm reported to the FBI. That same year, there were 8,275 criminal gun homicides. Using these numbers, in 2010, for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 36 criminal homicides. This ratio does not take into account the thousands of lives ended in gun suicides (19,392) or unintentional shootings (606) that year.
SOURCE: VIOLENCE POLICY CENTER
http://www.vpc.org/press/1304sel...

kURTje

Facts we know: non-vets are hit the, & arcnmeant. Anti- American?

hit the road jack

Your non american too,just ask obie or McCain,they are doing their best to give this country away to anyone but Americans and you people are too damn dumb to see it!

hit the road jack

The words of YOUR fearless (or brainless)leader are "the most feared terrorists are:(1) returning vets. (2) white males" Which category do you fit?

betrump

Lighten up on the Alex Jones...

betrump

Between 2005 and 2010, using instant background checks, an average of 70,000 people were denied a gun purchase. These people then may go somewhere and purchase a gun where a background check is NOT required. Background checks work. They should be universal. If you don't agree with that, I really think your priorities as a human being are really screwed up.

hit the road jack

Why were the people that were know they couldn't buy guns and still tried,why were they never prosecuted like the law says then? if you will not prosecute them if you got them in your hand why worry at all?

propman

Notice Betrump always calls anyone stupid/ignorant or unreasonable when they disagree and is totally unwilling to consider any facts they use to support their position. Or says we copy/paste from some nut case as if only Betrump can have an original thought.
That would mean Betrump is an ideologue, and just for you Betrump=
Definition of IDEOLOGUE

1: an impractical idealist : theorist

2: an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology

betrump

If common sense is an ideology, then YES, I am an ideologue.

propman

You really didn't read the definition did you.
Operating at "I'll shout down anyone that disagrees with me" now too.
I count you as having 54 posts here and none of them does not include an attack on someone else.
That also proves you to be a TROLL as well.

betrump

What a complete hypocrite! FAIL. AGAIN.

propman

60 now

betrump

Did you have to take your shoes and socks off to count that high?

propman

61 of 185 total comments now and still every one has a personal attack in it.
That is almost exactly 1/3 of all the comments on this article, one more and you'll be there.

betrump

Definition of Sheep:

1. A group of people who lack the capacity for careful consideration, imagination, or individual thought, who thus go with group-think ideas and allow stupid trends and events to unfold and make us all miserable.
2. Propman and his love, Armcorn.

propman

"1. A group of people who lack the capacity for careful consideration, imagination, or individual thought, who thus go with group-think ideas and allow stupid trends and events to unfold and make us all miserable."

That describes you liberals to a T. Further backed up by accusing others of what YOU are doing.

One thing to be considered, We who support the 2nd amendment are fighting to keep everyone's rights while you and those you support are fighting to limit or take away those rights from everyone.
Which side is trying to make everyone sheep/slaves?

betrump

That's pretty funny. The party that tries to take away everyone's rights suddenly feels like someone is trying to take away THEIR rights, and now they act insulted! Oh, the hypocrisy.

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