Senate Defeats Expanded Gun Background Checks
Gun Laws, Gun Politics

Senate Defeats Expanded Gun Background Checks

The supporters of tougher gun laws suffered a heavy blow on Wednesday, as the U.S. Senate rejected a compromise plan which would expand beckgorund checks on firearms sales, in addition to banning some semi-automatic weapons based on military assault weapons.

Despite the staunch push by President Barack Obama and Democrats, their stalwart opposition embodied in the ever-powerful National Rifle Association and conservative Republicans has overruled the key proposals in the gun package, even after they had been reduced to a mere compromise.

In the aftermath, Obama rebuked the NRA and senators who voted against the proposals for rejecting a compromise and said that he was supported by a vast majority of Americans. He even accused the opposition of deceiving the public.”Instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” said Obama to White House reporters.

He was backed by relatives of gin violence victims, but also former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a gun owner who was disabled in a shooting attack.

Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly said that those senators who voted against the expanded background checks chose to “obey the leaders of the powerful corporate gun lobby, instead of their constituents.”

On the opposing side stood the NRA’s Chris Cox, who called the expanded background check proposal “misguided,” and added that it would not reduce violent crime “or keep our kids safe in their schools.”

The broader gun package still under consideration by the Senate includes tougher laws on gun trafficking and straw purchases, and steps to devise ways to improve safety in schools.

Considering early opposition to the background checks expansion, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania figured out a compromise that was less comprehensive that what Obama wanted, but still gained his support.

The new plan would include private sales ta gun shows and all internet sales and still exempt most sales between family members and friends.

As agreed by both sides, all the amendments considered that day required 60 votes to pass in the 100-strong chamber. It meant that Democrates and their allies who acounted for 55 seats needed support from some Republican senators to empower the Manchin-Toomey proposal.

The final vote was 54 in favor to 46 opposed, with foure Republicans joining Democrats in supporting the compromise, while four Democrats from pro-gun states voted vith most Rebublicans in opposition.

On the proposal by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California to update a 1994 ban on semi-automatic weapons that expired in 2004, the vote was 40-60, showing opposition by several Democrats as well as the chamber’s Republican minority.

In recent weeks, Obama had pushed for Congress to instill both the expanded background checks provision and the weapons ban in any gun package, however, with the opposition mounting, Democrats’ effort focused on gaining support for the Manchin-Toomey compromise plan.

On the other hand, the NRA promised political retribution against the supporters of stricter gun laws and called the expanded background checks a first step toward a national gun registry and government confiscation of firearms.

April 19, 2013
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