Obama angry as gun control law is blocked in Senate

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Washington, april 18: He was visibly angry and did not try to hide it. President Barack Obama today blasted the Senate's rejection of a proposal to expand background checks on gun sales made online and at gun shows . "This was a pretty shameful day for Washington, but this effort is not over," Obama said in the Rose Garden.

Even the appearance of a wheelchair-bound Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), missing from Capitol Hill for weeks with serious health problems, did not make much difference.

The vote was 54-46. Sixty votes were needed under an agreement between the Republicans and Democrats to accept the law.

Though there was intense lobbying, in the end, nothing could persuade the US senators to approve the most significant gun legislation in two decades.

Barack Obama

Obama had taken the risk of pushing for strict gun control laws as he banked on the carnage in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were massacred by a gunman in December. The massacre had started a national debate on gun control.

The Senate's key vote on Wednesday wasn't exactly a rejection of expanded background checks, gun-control advocates were careful to point out.

Most senators - 54 - approved the measure, which polls indicated was backed by more than 80 percent of Americans. But because Republicans threatened to use a filibuster to block any gun proposal that did not get 60 votes in the 100-member Senate, the plan did not succeed.

There are estimated 270 million guns in circulation in US, and vote reflected the success of the powerful gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Meanwhile, amid their disappointment, frustration and anger, it was clear that the new groups who have driven the gun-control agenda since Newtown already were taking aim at the 2014 and 2016 elections.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose personal fortune has helped to fund a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, called on Wednesday's vote a "damning indictment of the stranglehold that special interests have on Washington."

In an opinion piece in The New York Times on Thursday, former US Representative Gabrielle Giffords - who was critically wounded in a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona in 2011 and founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, a group that focuses on gun violence - vowed not to give up.

"On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave in to fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental issues to get hold of deadly firearms," Giffords wrote.

Gun-rights advocates acknowledge they have competition that is perhaps unprecedented, but they note that Bloomberg's millions didn't lead to Senate passage of the background checks plan. They note that while Newtown inspired the gun-control movement, it also boosted the NRA and its supporters.

In US, the sales of guns and ammunition had soared due to fears that Obama's gun-control package would affect the supply of guns. Stock prices of gun makers such as Smith & Wesson Holding Corp and Sturm, Ruger & Co dipped after Newtown, but now are near where they were before the shootings.

And although there has been a wave of new gun-control laws in states led by Democrats, several states led by Republicans have eased gun restrictions in the months since Newtown.

OneIndia News

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