The US Senate has blocked bipartisan legislation aimed at tightening restrictions on the sale of firearms, a huge defeat for an angry President Barack Obama.
This morning’s attempt to ban assault-style rifles went down, too, and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines faced the same fate in a series of showdown votes four months after a gunman killed 20 school children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The background check measure commanded a majority of senators, 54-46, but that was well short of the 60 votes needed to advance. Forty-one Republicans and five Democrats sided together to scuttle the plan.
Speaking to the nation after the vote Obama said a minority the senators decided “it wasn’t worth it” to protect the nation’s children.
“All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” Obama said.”There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this. It came down to politics,” he said, flanked by relatives of the victims of recent mass shootings, some of whom wept during the president’s comments.
Universal background checks are, for me, a non-brainer. 90% of Americans support them. You want to make sure sales are not to convicted criminals, and the seriously mentally unwell. It is disappointing that even that modest proposal couldn’t get past the Senate.
The proposed bans on assault-style rifles and high-capacity ammo were never going to pass, and are far more debatable propositions. But it is very hard to argue against universal background checks for gun sales.