WASHINGTON (TIP): The centerpiece proposal on background checks in the proposed changes to a gun control bill failed to win enough support in the Senate April 17. The vote on the so-called Manchin-Toomey amendment was 54 in favor, 46 against – failing to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to move ahead. Four Republicans supported it, and four Democrats voted no. A controversial Democratic plan to ban dozens of military-style assault weapons was also defeated by a vote of 40 to 60.
The votes were a setback for President Obama, who angrily blasted Republicans for defeating the background check compromise, saying “the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill.” “All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” Obama said, promising that “this effort is not over.” A number of other amendments also failed to earn the 60 votes necessary to pass: A GOP proposal including a number of changes, 52 to 48; a bipartisan amendment to stiffen penalties for “straw purchasers,” 58 to 42; a GOP-backed amendment that would have permitted “national reciprocity” of state-issued concealed carry permits, 57 to 43; and a GOP plan to extend gun rights for veterans, including those deemed unable to manage their financial affairs, 56-44.
The raw emotion of the background check amendment defeat played out in the Senate gallery just after Vice President Biden read the vote count. “Shame on you!” at least two women were heard shouting. “We’re sick and tired of the death in this country and these legislators stand up there and think it’s a bunch of numbers,” said Haas, whose daughter, Emily, was wounded in the April 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech. “It’s a shame, it’s appalling, it’s disgusting,” she added. The chief architects of the plan to expand the national gun background check system, Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) and Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.), acknowledged in interviews early Wednesday, April 17 that their proposal lacked sufficient support. After the vote, Toomey expressed regret, but said that it was time to move on. “I did what I thought was the right thing for our country.
I sought out a compromise position that I thought could move the ball forward on an important matter of public safety,” he said in a statement, adding later, “We have a lot of other very important issues to deal with such as getting the economy back on track, dealing with the debt ceiling and creating more jobs for Pennsylvanians.” Before the voting began, Biden, who is leading the Obama administration’s gun control effort, sounded quite frustrated with misinformation being spread by opponents to the bipartisan compromise Wednesday.
Speaking during a “Google Hangout,” Biden reiterated that the proposal would not create or lead to the creation of a federal gun registry. “Nothing can be further from the truth,” he said. Biden also dismissed suggestions that the measures would infringe upon people’s constitutional right to bear arms. “There is no – zero – no infringement on the Second Amendment, not one single thing being proposed,” he said. In the hours before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) also attempted to rally last-minute support for the bill by issuing an ominous warning to his colleagues. “If tragedy strikes again…if innocents are gunned down in a classroom, theater or restaurant, I would have trouble living with myself as a senator, as a husband, a father, or grandfather and friend, knowing that I didn’t do everything in my power to prevent that incident,” Reid said. Shortly before the vote, Sen.
John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he would support the background check plan, saying that while he was a staunch defender of Second Amendment rights, the bipartisan proposal is “not overly burdensome or unconstitutional.” “Is this a perfect solution? No. will it prevent all future acts of gun violence? Of course not,” McCain said. “Would it have prevented the most recent acts of gun violence? In all likelihood, no. But it is reasonable, and it is my firm conviction that it is constitutional.” Meanwhile, only one day after suffering defeat, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday, April 18, set aside President Barack Obama’s plan to curb gun violence but promised to keep searching for a compromise.
Reid said Democrats would keep negotiating on the proposals, even though the Senate rejected all the vital elements of the legislation prompted by the December massacre of 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.