Thursday, April 18, 2013


'A shameful day for Washington': Furious Obama slams Senate's rejection of expanded gun background checks

The background check deal for gun sales was brokered by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.), and suffered a crushing defeat Wednesday afternoon when senators voted it down 54-46.

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Updated: Thursday, April 18, 2013, 7:06 AM



















































 US President Barack Obama is accompanied by former lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords (L), vice president Joe Biden (R) and family members of Newtown school shooting victims as he speaks on gun control at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 17, 2013. Obama on Wednesday slammed what he called a "minority" in the US Senate for blocking legislation that would have expanded background checks on those seeking to buy guns. 

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

US President Barack Obama is accompanied by former lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords (L), vice president Joe Biden (R) and family members of Newtown school shooting victims as he speaks on gun control at the Rose Garden of the White House.

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday killed the most far-reaching gun control bill in 20 years, dealing a heartbreak to relatives of Newtown victims that left President Obama seething and Vice President Biden on the brink of tears.
“This was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” Obama fumed.
A bipartisan compromise to expand background checks for gun purchasers mustered 54 “yes” votes — well short of the 60 needed for passage under Senate rules, despite days of one-on-one lobbying by Newtown relatives and months of campaigning by Obama.
“Shame on you!” yelled Pricia Maisch, a survivor of the 2011 shooting in Tucson that killed six and wounded 13, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Maisch had been watching from the Senate gallery with other victims of gun violence and Newtown families.
A short time later at the White House, Obama delivered one of the most pointed speeches of his presidency.
Flanked by Giffords, Newtown families and a visibly upset Biden, Obama charged that the gun lobby “willfully lied about the bill” and that senators “caved to pressure and started looking for excuses, any excuse, to vote” against it.
President Obama on Wednesday angrily blamed politics for the failure of gun control legislation and urged voters to send a message at the ballot box that they want stronger gun laws.

YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS

President Obama on Wednesday angrily blamed politics for the failure of gun control legislation and urged voters to send a message at the ballot box that they want stronger gun laws.

RELATED: SEN. FEINSTEIN: KEEP UP FIGHT TO BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS
Obama said the senators who opposed the background-check provision — most Republicans and a handful of Democrats — “could not offer any good reason why we wouldn’t want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun.”
“It came down to politics,” Obama said.
“If action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand — if it could have prevented those people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future while preserving our Second Amendment rights, we had an obligation to try,” Obama added.
“And this legislation met that test. And too many senators failed theirs.”
Obama was introduced by Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel was one of the 26 students and educators killed in the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Father of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim, Mark Barden (L) hugs Vice President Biden after introducing President Obama to make a statement on gun violence in the Rose Garden of the White House.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Father of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim, Mark Barden (L) hugs Vice President Biden after introducing President Obama to make a statement on gun violence in the Rose Garden of the White House.

Barden vowed that the fight for meaningful gun control would press on.
RELATED: FATHER OF NEWTOWN VICTIM INTRODUCES OBAMA FOLLOWING SENATE’S VOTE TO DEFEAT BACKGROUND-CHECK DEAL
“We are not going away, and every day as more people are killed in this country because of gun violence, our determination grows.”
Obama had made the fight for gun control a pillar of his second-term agenda after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
And expanding background checks eventually became the centerpiece of his crusade, considered the most significant new measure that had a chance of getting through Congress.
The President also tried to reinstate the federal ban on military-style assault weapons and limit the sale of high-capacity magazines.
Front page of the April 18, 2013 edition of the New York Daily News.

New York Daily News

Front page of the April 18, 2013 edition of the New York Daily News.

The Senate rejected those proposals, too, on Wednesday — but hopes those measures could be enacted had faded weeks ago.
The sponsor of the assault weapons ban, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), made a final plea for it on the Senate floor. She brought with her an enlarged copy of the Daily News front page from March 20 that declared “SHAME ON U.S.” when it became clear that the ban would not pass.
RELATED: SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN SAYS DAILY NEWS ‘SHAME ON U.S.’ FRONT PAGE ‘CARRIES THE MESSAGE’ OF ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN
“I think it carries the message of what we’re trying to do here,” Feinstein said, revealing that she brings a copy of the front page “when I try to get people’s votes” on the proposal.
The compromise on background checks had been crafted by two senators with “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association: Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
Their support gave hope to advocates that the proposal could get through the Senate. But the NRA mounted a furious lobbying campaign.
Mark Barden, the father of Newtown shooting victim Daniel, introduces President Obama at his news conference following the Senate vote to reject the gun sales background-check amendment.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

Mark Barden, the father of Newtown shooting victim Daniel, introduces President Obama at his news conference following the Senate vote to reject the gun sales background-check amendment.

Just before the vote, Manchin accused the NRA of falsely telling its members that friends, neighbors and some family members would need federal permission to transfer ownership of firearms to one another under the proposal.
“Where I come from in West Virginia … that’s a lie,” Manchin said.
The NRA issued a statement after the vote that restated the claim.
RELATED: OBAMA: VOTING DOWN GUN PACKAGE 'UNIMAGINABLE'
The measure “would have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors and some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution,” said NRA lobbyist Chris Cox.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who voted against the proposal, said, “Expanded background checks would not have prevented Newtown. Criminals do not submit to background checks.”
President Barack Obama addresses the Senate's rejection of the background-check deal during a press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House.

White House Livestream

President Barack Obama addresses the Senate's rejection of the background-check deal during a press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Wednesday’s votes left the Senate’s gun bill consisting of a gun trafficking law to curb straw purchases, a priority for the NYPD; mental health and school safety provisions; and a Democratic background-check provision that could mean defeat of the entire bill.
House prospects are dim. Rep. Pete King (R.-L.I.), who introduced the Toomey-Manchin compromise as a House bill, said the Senate votes likely doomed the measure in the House.
The day’s votes left Giffords, Mayor Bloomberg and other supporters of new gun controls vowing to make opponents pay at the ballot box.
“Moments ago, the U.S. Senate decided to do the unthinkable about gun violence — nothing at all,” Giffords wrote in an email to supporters.
RELATED: GIFFORDS URGES SUPPORT FOR BACKGROUND CHECKS
“Over two years ago, when I was shot point-blank in the head, the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing. Four months ago, 20 first-graders lost their lives in a brutal attack on their school, and the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing,” she added.
The background check deal failed in the Senate despite efforts by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was in Washington to encourage undecided senators to support the compromise.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

The background check deal failed in the Senate despite efforts by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was in Washington to encourage undecided senators to support the compromise.

“It’s clear to me that if members of the U.S. Senate refuse to change the laws to reduce gun violence, then we need to change the members of the U.S. Senate.”
Said Bloomberg, “The only silver lining is that we now know who refuses to stand with the 90% of Americans — and in 2014, our ever-expanding coalition of supporters will work to make sure that voters don’t forget.”
“I see this as just round one,” Obama said. “Things are gonna change.”
“I believe were going to be able to get this done,” he added. “Sooner or later, we’re going to get this right.”
Carlee Soto, 20, whose sister, Victoria Soto, was killed in Newtown, said lawmakers had not seen the last of her.
“This is what I do. This is my life,” she said of her lobbying. “I fight for my sister and everyone else who has been killed with guns.”
dfriedman@nydailynews.com
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