Gun background checks a no-go in US Senate

Friday, April 19, 2013

The US Senate rejected Wednesday a bill amendment aimed at increasing the security of gun background checks, on what President Barack Obama described as "a shameful day for Washington."

President Barack Obama.
Image: Elizabeth Cromwell.

On April 10 Senator Pat Toomey, accompanying Senator Joe Manchin in announcing the amendment, said it aimed to make "it more difficult for criminals and mentally ill people to obtain guns". The amendment would expand checks to sales online and at gun shows.

The vote followed weeks of campaigning by the President, who was supported by a speech by First Lady Michelle Obama describing his proposed measures as "common sense."

The bill received only 54 of the required 60 votes to proceed, despite strong public support for tighter gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last year. Gun rights groups have campaigned strongly against the vote, claiming that the measures would violate constitutional rights, and targeting individual Senators with mocking material appearing online.

Other proposed amendments to the bill which endeavoured to ban the sale of assault weapons like the one used in the Sandy Hook shooting and to place limits on the amount of ammunition which could be purchased in a single transaction also failed to garner sufficient votes.

An onlooker in the gallery shouted "Shame on you" as the result of the vote was announced.

The President spoke to the press and spectators shortly after the vote was announced, passionately assuring his audience that he would continue to pursue measures to reduce the incidence of gun violence in the United States.