WASHINGTON (April 27, 2013)—The U.S. Senate Wednesday rejected a bipartisan effort to expand federal background checks to more firearms buyers in a crucial showdown over gun control.
Wednesday's vote was a jarring blow to the drive to curb firearms prompted by December's massacre of children and staff at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
President Barack Obama made broadened background checks the centerpiece of his gun control proposals.
The roll call was also a victory for the National Rifle Association, which opposed the plan as an ineffective infringement on gun rights.
The proposal would have required background checks for all transactions at gun shows and online.
Now they’re only required for sales handled by licensed gun dealers.
The system is designed to keep criminals and people with mental problems from getting guns.
Mr. Obama called it a “shameful day” in Washington.
He said a minority of senators decided "it wasn't worth it" to protect the nation's children.
Mr. Obama spoke in the Rose Garden shortly after the Senate vote, which marked a major blow to the gun control push he started in the wake of December's shooting in Newtown.
Mr. Obama was introduced by the father of a 7-year-old killed in the shooting and members of other Newtown families joined him in the Rose Garden, along with former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in 2011.
The Senate Wednesday also rejected an attempt by Democrats to ban assault weapons.
Led by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., supporters said barring the military-style weapons would reduce the deadliness of gun crimes because shooters wouldn't be able to fire as many shots.
But Republicans and many Democrats opposed taking a step they said would curtail the Second Amendment right to bear arms and also argued that prohibiting the weapons would do little because assault weapons account for a small portion of gun crimes.
The defeat Wednesday was expected.
The plan was rejected 60-40.
Senators also killed an effort to limit ammunition magazines to no more than 10 rounds.
The proposal received 46 "yes" votes Wednesday, well short of the 60 votes needed for passage.
Democratic Sens. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut sponsored the measure.