Second Amendment advocates celebrated a victory on Wednesday when the Senate defeated an amendment to expand background checks for gun sales. The amendment's defeat was seen as a significant setback for the congressional gun-control agenda. After the vote, President Obama delivered a statement from the Rose Garden berating opponents while flanked by family members of Newtown, Connecticut, shooting victims.
"All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington," he declared.
The amendment was rejected by a vote of 54 to 46, six votes short of the 60 needed for passage. Four Republicans — John McCain (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine), Pat Toomey (Penn.), and Mark Kirk (Ill.) — voted for the measure, while five Democrats — Harry Reid (Nev.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Max Baucus (Mont.) — opposed it.
The amendment, authored by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), would have expanded background checks for gun sales at gun shows and via the Internet. The amendment was meant to be a compromise to win over "conservatives" who oppose the universal background check scheme in the underlying bill, S. 649.
President Obama charged after the vote that "the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill" and that their claims "upset" some gun owners who in turn "intimidated" senators. "There were no coherent arguments as to why we couldn’t do this,” the president claimed. “It came down to politics." Second Amendment advocates rebutted that charge, pointing out that the information collected from background checks could ultimately lead to a firearms registry, as has occurred in other countries.
Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told Fox News, “Once you get these lists out there, once you have a gun dealer keeping lists for lots of other people, the only way that works, frankly I think is if you keep the paper. And if you keep the paper, eventually, somebody’s going to ask for it.”
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Photo of gun show: AP Images