WASHINGTON – Two days after the bombings in Boston, Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King voted in favor of federal legislation that would require tighter background checks for individuals attempting to buy a gun.
By agreement, 60 senators needed to vote in the affirmative for the legislation to be passed onto the house. In the end, only 54 said yes, 46 said no. Because the majority total did not reach the required 60 votes, the no’s carried the day.
For many on the senate floor, including its sponsor, Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-West Virginia, the language and purpose of the proposed amendment seemed simple enough.
“This bill will protect the Second Amendment rights of honest, gun owning citizens,” he said.
President Barack Obama, in an emotionally charged press conference seemed to agree.
“The language and purpose couldn’t be any clearer,” the President said. Flanked by parents from Newtown, Connecticut and former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., Obama angrily addressed the defeat.
“Instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” the President said.
Obama claimed that 90 percent U.S. citizens were in favor of tightening the rules regarding the purchase of a weapon, and he said that in many ways, the legislation simply makes the rules consistent no matter where a person purchased a weapon.
As many have noted, including Obama, there are holes in the current system and people may buy weapons at gun shows and on the Internet without undergoing a background check. There is also no limit to the number of weapons or amount of ammunition they may buy.
Maine’s two senators, most of the senate democrats and a handful of republicans, voted to expand the background checks. Perhaps the most notable in the minority was John McCain, R-Ariz.
“It is perfectly reasonable to use available tools to conduct limited background checks, as this amendment prescribes, to help ensure that felons and the mentally-ill do not obtain guns they should not possess. In my view, such background checks are not overly burdensome or unconstitutional,” he said when describing his support.
Obama, McCain, King and Collins all vow to continue fighting for expanded background checks.
During the late afternoon press conference, trying to keep his emotions in check, President Obama said: “it’s a pretty shameful day for Washington. Who are we here to represent?”
He concluded by saying this is just one round in the fight. “When Newtown happened, I met with these families and I spoke to the community, and I said, something must be different right now. We’re going to have to change,” he said.