President Obama called it a “shameful day for Washington” on Wednesday after learning that the Senate had struck down an expanded background check bill by just six votes.
Obama made the statements during a press conference called on Wednesday afternoon at the White House’s Rose Garden.
Standing next to survivors of gun violence including former congresswoman Gabby Giffords and a family from Newtown, Connecticut who lost a son in December, the US President expressed his frustration over the bill’s failure.
The measure would prevent sales to people with criminal backgrounds or serious mental illness no matter where they try to purchase a firearm. Obama chastised the Senate, saying:
“A few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery.”
But despite the setback, the president also declared, “This is just round one.” The vote by the Senate was the first of three on gun control on Wednesday. By the end of the day, all three measures had failed to pass.
The background check bill saw a vote of 54 to 46. But 60 votes were required for the measure to pass. The bill’s failure was the first defeat President Obama had seen in his second term. The disappointment for him, as well as Vice President Joe Biden, was palpable as they walked up to the podium on Wednesday afternoon.
Along with expressing his frustration, the president also suggested that the gun lobby “willfully lied about the bill” in an attempt to keep it from going through. Obama added that he spoke with senators about the bill, adding:
“The fact is most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn’t want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illness to buy a gun. There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this.”
The president added that 90 percent of Americans, when polled, supported the expanded background checks, explaining that the two senators who introduced the amendment had A ratings with the NRA.
Do you believe the expanded background checks measure should have passed in the Senate?