Obama accuses senators of buckling to pro-gun lobby

Washington, April 18 (IANS/EFE) US President Barack Obama Wednesday accused some senators of buckling to pressure from the pro-gun lobby and voting against the bipartisan amendment that was intended to expand background checks for all weapons buyers.

Wednesday was “a pretty shameful day for Washington”, said the visibly angry president from the White House Rose Garden – where he was joined by some of the parents of victims of the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school massacre – after the amendment was voted down in the Senate.

“The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” Obama said, adding that pro-gun groups pressured certain senators who feared for their re-election if they voted for the measure.

Obama said that the gun lobby and its allies “claimed (the amendment) would create a ‘big brother’ gun registry,” adding that the “pattern of spreading untruths” about the legislation served the purpose of enraging a vocal minority of gun owners.

The president said that the senators who voted against the amendment had “no coherent arguments” to explain their opposition to making it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to buy a gun, asserting that a number of senators “caved to the pressure and they started looking for an excuse, any excuse, to vote no”.

Obama said some would call the amendment’s failure a victory but “A victory for who? A victory for what? All that happened today was the preservation of the loophole that allows dangerous criminals to buy guns without a background check.”

The bipartisan amendment to current law sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey and Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin was the best hope for consensus in Congress on moving forward with gun control legislation.

Although the amendment received 54 votes in favour and 46 against, all amendments of its kind require a minimum of 60 votes to be allowed to continue moving through the Senate.

The president promised, however, that “sooner or later” tighter legislation on gun sales in the US would be passed and become law, adding that he considered the recent vote to be just “round one”.



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