WASHINGTON — The Senate on Monday failed to advance four separate measures aimed at curbing gun sales, the latest display of congressional inaction after a mass shooting.
Eight days after a gunman claiming allegiance to the Islamic State killed 49 people in an Orlando, Fla., nightclub, the Senate deadlocked, largely along party lines, on amendments to block people on the federal terrorism watch list from buying guns and to close loopholes in background check laws.
Partisanship and the power of the gun lobby played a large role in the amendments’ failure. Democrats structured their bills in a way that was almost certain to repel Republicans, while Republicans responded with bills equally distasteful to Democrats.
Democrats vowed to hammer Republicans during the campaign this fall.
“Our constituents see a disturbing pattern of inaction,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said on the Senate floor on Monday. “Sadly, our efforts are blocked by the Republican Congress, who take their marching orders from the National Rifle Association.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, introduced one of the failed measures, which could have prevented anyone on the federal terrorism watch list and other terrorist databases from buying firearms or explosives. Democrats tried unsuccessfully to pass the measure after the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., in December.
The Obama administration, which has been pushing for a variety of new gun control legislation, vowed to press on.
“The view of the administration is that the American people should be engaged in the debate,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said on Monday. “So the fact that this is something that is being actively debated and considered in the Senate does represent incremental progress.”
The Senate measures seemed doomed almost as soon as they were offered. After the Sandy Hook massacre, a bipartisan background check measure failed, even though Democrats controlled the Senate. Democrats, now in the minority, replaced that measure with the amendment sponsored by Mr. Murphy, which would have expanded background checks to all gun sales except loans and gifts between family members. Republicans said it was too broad. And even Senator Jon Tester of Montana, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, voted against it.
Source: The New York Times, June 20, 2016