The Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate today shot down President Obama’s effort to control guns in a series of votes.
The votes were on amendments to a bill by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., advanced last week, 68-31, to the Senate floor for debate.
The first, and key, amendment was to expand background checks widely. It failed 54-46 under a requirement of 60 votes for adoption.
The White House has lobbied intensely across the country, including using emotional pleas from the families of victims of the Newtown school shooting. Obama administration officials had confirmed the president’s agenda was sinking. Reuters reported the frustration level was so high that press secretary Jay Carney took to the podium of the briefing room to urge senators to back Obama.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told the assembled body that Congress should be focused on “stopping violent criminals” but not “targeting law-abiding citizens.”
“The approach that is effective is targeting violent criminals while safeguarding the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said.
Cruz blamed the Obama Justice Department for failing to prosecute gun criminals, noting that of 48,000 felons or fugitives who tried to obtain weapons, only 44 were prosecuted.
The support just wasn’t there. Among the legislation that senators scheduled for vote was:
The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and others. It expands background checks to gun shows and Internet sales. It also authorizes $400 million to upgrade the national background check database. It failed 54-46 under a requirement of 60 votes for adoption.
A proposal by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to swap the background check provisions of the existing bill. It would target those who lie on background check applications and raise access to information about those who have been found mentally impaired by a court. It failed 52-48.
The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and others. It would enable those who purchase guns for others to avoid a background check. It failed 58-42.
Concealed-carry reciprocity from Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and others. It would treat state-sponsored concealed carry permits like driver’s licenses, making them valid across state lines. It failed 57-43
The Assault Weapons Ban from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and others. It targets hundreds of types of weapons for a complete ban. It failed, 40 to 60.
A plan from Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., to require a court order finding a person a danger to himself or herself or others before that person is banned from buying a gun. Failed 56-44.
The Large-Capacity Magazine Feeding Devices Amendment from Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.. It bans devices holding more than 10 rounds but creates a special class of citizen – the off-duty police officer – for exemption. Failed 46-54.
A plan from Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wy., to penalize a state financially if officials publicly release gun ownership information.
And Sen. Tom Harkin’s plan to encourage suicide prevention and mental health awareness.
Far-left television personality Piers Morgan reacted to the votes.
“Imagine those Newtown family members at the Senate today – suddenly realizing their lawmakers don’t give a stuff about their dead children,” he said.
The Democrats were unable even to corral their own for the key vote on background checks, losing the support of Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Max Baucus, D-Mont.; and Mark Pryor, D-Ark.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” called the vote a “damning indictment of the stranglehold that special interests have on Washington.”
The National Rifle Association said that the plan would have failed to reduce violent crime or keep kids safe in schools. But the group said it would continue to work on ways to prosecute violent criminals, fix a broken mental health system and protect children.