US Senate rejects gun background checks

President Obama's campaign to curb gun violence dealt sharp blow after plan to expand checks for gun buyers was denied.

    US Senate rejects gun background checks
    Obama's major initiative for background checks failed to round up 60 votes in the Senate [AFP]

    The US Senate has rejected a bipartisan plan to expand background checks for gun buyers, dealing a sharp blow to President Barack Obama's campaign to curb gun violence after the Newtown school massacre.

    Despite emotional pleas from families of victims of the Newtown, Connecticut, shootings and broad public support nationwide, the plan to extend background checks to online and gun-show sales failed on a 54-46 vote on Wednesday, six votes short of the 60-vote hurdle needed to clear the Senate.

    Speaking from the White House on Wednesday, Obama blamed the blockage of the legislation on a "minority" in the US Senate, marking it as a "shameful day for Washington". 

    "The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill," he said, adding that the proposal "represented moderation and common sense".

    The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill.

    US President Barack Obama

    The amendment negotiated by Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania was seen as Obama's best hope to pass meaningful gun-control legislation after the December massacre of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown.

    Intense negotiations

    Other measures backed by the president - including a proposal to ban rapid-firing "assault" weapons like the one used in Connecticut and a limit on ammunition magazines - also are expected to fail as the Senate conducts nine consecutive votes on gun-control legislation.

    The votes are the culmination of weeks of intense negotiations and lobbying over Obama's proposed gun restrictions, and the defeat of the background checks amendment could doom the biggest package of gun legislation Congress has considered in two decades.

    Opponents of the Manchin-Toomey plan and the restrictions on assault weapons said the proposals were an example of government overreach that would infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms.

    High public support

    The Democratic-led Senate also will consider several Republican-sponsored amendments backed by the National Rifle Association gun lobby that would expand gun rights, adding an element of uncertainty to the eventual content of the bill.

    The Senate legislation also includes tighter restrictions on gun trafficking and more funding for school security.
    The Manchin-Toomey background checks amendment allowed exemptions for private sales or gifts between families and friends and prohibited the creation of a national registry of guns.

    Polls show more than 80 percent of Americans support expanded background checks.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    We visualised 1.2 million votes at the UN since 1946. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the world today?

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.