NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Senate Republicans, backed by some Democrats, blocked legislation Wednesday to tighten restrictions on the sale of firearms, prompting Mayor Michael Bloomberg to rip lawmakers for failing to pass the bipartisan effort that focused on the expansion of background checks.
“Today’s vote is a damning indictment of the stranglehold that special interests have on Washington,” Bloomberg said. “More than 40 U.S. senators would rather turn their backs on the 90 percent of Americans who support comprehensive background checks than buck the increasingly extremist wing of the gun lobby.”
“The only silver lining is that we now know who refuses to stand with the 90 percent of Americans – and in 2014, our ever-expanding coalition of supporters will work to make sure that voters don’t forget,” Bloomberg added.
As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, the vote also resulted in strong words from President Barack Obama, who stood side-by-side with shooting victim and former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, saying, “all in all this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.”
Obama said the gun lobby “willfully lied about the bill” and spread “untruths” that ultimately intimidated many senators and led to the measure’s downfall.
“It came down to politics,” Obama added.
The background check measure commanded a majority of senators, 54-46, but that was well short of the 60 votes needed to advance. Forty-one Republicans and five Democrats sided together to scuttle the plan.
Obama said the measure would have simply expanded background checks to include online and gun show purchases, adding that contrary to claims it would create a “big brother gun registry,” the amendment actually “outlawed it.”
“If action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand…if it could have prevent those people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future while preserving our Second Amendment rights, we had an obligation to try,” Obama said. “This legislation met that test and too many senators failed theirs.”
Relatives of victims of Newtown, Conn., and other mass shootings have been lobbying lawmakers to restrict guns, and several planned to be in the visitors’ gallery during Wednesday’s vote, a spokeswoman said. Many have also appeared at news conferences, including at the White House.
“What happened in Newtown can happen anywhere. In any instant, any dad in America could be in my shoes,” Mark Barden, the father of murdered Sandy Hook first grader Daniel Barden, said in remarks before introducing President Obama. “No one should feel our pain or the pain felt by the tens of thousands of people who’ve lost loved ones to senseless gun violence.”