Washington, April 18 (IANS) After a stinging defeat in the US Senate, President Barack Obama lashed out at those who voted against several gun control measures backed by him in the wake of Newtown massacre of the innocents last December.
A bipartisan compromise proposal to expand background checks for gun buyers, a ban on assault weapons and a ban on high-capacity gun magazines all failed to get the 60 votes needed under an agreement between the Republicans and Democrats.
Those who defeated the legislation “decided it wasn’t worth it”, said Obama, blaming the defeat of the deal on “the gun lobby and its allies” and alleging that those against the legislation “wilfully lied” about its provisions.
“All in in all, this was a pretty shameful day in Washington,” he said, as families who lost loved ones in the Newtown school shooting stood around him.
Obama said “we can do more” to impose stricter gun laws and warned that “if this Congress refuses to listen to the American people… the real impact is going to have to come from the voters”.
Former House member Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in a mass shooting, also stood by his side. She too later lambasted the 46 senators who voted against the proposal in a New York Times opinion piece.
“Speaking is physically difficult for me,” Giffords wrote in the piece published online after the Senate rejected the compromise Wednesday. “But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done.”
“Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown,” she wrote in the op-ed.
“Some of the senators who voted ‘no’ have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, six of whom died,” Giffords wrote.
“These senators have heard from their constituents – who polls show overwhelmingly favoured expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them,” Giffords said.
Giffords, a Democrat, was seriously wounded in a 2011 shooting that killed six and wounded 13.
She and her husband, Mark Kelly, have been vocal advocates for stricter gun laws since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.
Together, the two gun owners formed a nonprofit group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, which lobbied Congress and tried to beat back efforts from the powerful National Rifle Association.
Opponents argued the compromise struck by West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey to expand background checks to gun shows and internet sales infringed on Second Amendment rights and wouldn’t go far enough to prevent gun violence.
It was offered as an amendment to an underlying package of proposals and needed 60 votes to pass. It received 54.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])