By Ted Barrett and Tom Cohen. In a major defeat for supporters of tougher gun laws, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday defeated a compromise plan to expand background checks on firearms sales as well as a proposal to ban some semi-automatic weapons modeled after military assault weapons.
The votes were on a series of amendments to a broad package of gun laws pushed by President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in the aftermath of the Newtown school massacre in December.
However, fierce opposition by the powerful National Rifle Association led a backlash by conservative Republicans and a few Democrats from pro-gun states that doomed key proposals in the gun package, even after they had been watered down to try to satisfy opponents.
After the votes, Obama angrily criticized the NRA and senators who voted against the expanded background checks for rejecting a compromise he said was supported by a strong majority of Americans.
“Instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” Obama told White House reporters. Read more from this story HERE.
Obama: Gun defeat ‘shameful day for Washington’
By Reid J. Epstein. Defeated and angry — and surrounded by Newtown families and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) — President Barack Obama blamed a gun lobby that “willfully lied” and senators who “caved to the pressure” for the defeat of his effort to pass gun control through Congress.
Obama blasted the Senate’s voting down the Manchin-Toomey amendment — a bipartisan agreement on background checks that was itself a compromise on a fraction of the comprehensive gun control package the president called for after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.
“All in all this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” Obama said in the Rose Garden, after walking to the podium with his arm around Giffords and hugged the relatives of victims of the December shooting.
Obama directed much of his anger at Republicans and seizing the political high ground for himself and fellow Democrats as he called out the opposition for rejecting an idea that polls show 90 percent of people support. Read more from this story HERE.
Gun control: Obama’s biggest loss
By Glenn Thrush and Reid J. Epstein. Never before had President Barack Obama put the moral force and political muscle of his presidency behind an issue quite this big — and lost quite this badly.
The president, shaken to the core by the massacre of 26 innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School, broke his own informal “Obama Rule” — of never leaning into an issue without a clear path to victory — first by pushing for a massive gun control package no one expected to pass, and then sticking through it even as he retrenched to a relatively modest bipartisan bill mandating national background checks on gun purchases.
It was a bitter defeat for a president accustomed to winning, a second-term downer that may — or may not — foreshadow the slow decline suffered by so many of his predecessors. Obama seems to have the public behind him, but it illustrated his less-than-Johnsonian powers of personal persuasion, the possible shortcomings of his decision to wait a month after the killings to present a plan and above all the limits of his go-to “outside” strategy of taking his case directly to the American people.
More than anything, it was an emotional blow to Obama, who was as irritated at the four members of his own party as he was at the 90 percent of Republicans who defeated the bill. Read more from this story HERE.