A bipartisan compromise that would have expanded federal background checks for firearms purchases has been rejected by the Senate.
The defeat of the measure by a 54-46 vote — six votes shy of the number needed to clear the Senate — marks a major setback for gun-control advocates, many of whom had hoped that Congress would act to curb gun violence in the wake of December’s Newtown elementary school massacre, where 20 students and six adults were killed.
The National Rifle Association fought the expansion of background checks, saying criminals would simply ignore them, The Associated Press reports.
The expanded background checks were aimed at closing loopholes and keep criminals and the seriously mentally ill from getting firearms. Currently, the checks only apply to purchases handled by licensed firearms dealers.
In a last-ditch appeal on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney urged senators to “consider who they’re representing,” and pointed out that “Ninety percent of the American people support expanded background checks. If you are opposed to this legislation, you should obviously explain why you are against what 90 percent of the people are for.”
But a recent Associated Press-GfK poll shows waning public support for tighter gun laws. According to the AP:
Overall “49 percent said gun laws should be made stricter while 38 percent said they should stay the same,” according to the survey of 1,004 randomly chosen adults conducted from April 11-15.
Reuters say “Other measures backed by [President Obama] — 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.