Gun control supporters express familiar frustration after Senate vote

·Senior Writer

Democratic lawmakers, activists and the White House are expressing their all-too-familiar frustration after the Senate rejected tighter gun control measures just eight days after 49 people were killed at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. — the deadliest mass shooting on U.S. soil.

All four measures to expand background checks for gun buyers and curb sales to those on terror watch lists fell short of the 60 votes needed to pass in the 100-member chamber.

Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, who last week launched a 14-hour filibuster to pressure his Republican colleagues to agree to a vote, said he was disappointed but not ready to give up the fight.

“I am disappointed in results of the votes tonight,” Murphy wrote on Twitter. “But I know we will not stop fighting to end gun violence.”

“We have a long road ahead,” Murphy continued. “But Congress cannot remain this out of step with the views & values of the American people for long. This country is rising up to demand safer, stronger gun laws. Millions of Americans are speaking out & they will not be silenced.”

He added: “Dear gun lobby, I’m not going anywhere. I’m not backing down. I’m not giving up. And I got millions of folks with me.”

A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted after the Orlando nightclub massacre found that 71 percent of Americans favor at least moderate regulations and restrictions on gun sales. And a CNN/ORC poll released Monday showed overwhelming support (92 percent) for expanded background checks.

Slideshow: Gun control debate >>>

In an interview with the Washington Post, Murphy turned his attention to the GOP lawmakers who voted against restricting gun sales to those on terror watch lists.

“Republicans have decided to sell weapons to ISIS,” Murphy said. “That’s what they’ve decided to do. ISIS has decided that the assault weapon is the new airplane, and Republicans, in refusing to close the terror gap, refusing to pass bans on assault weapons, are allowing these weapons to get in the hands of potential lone-wolf attackers.”

President Obama was “profoundly frustrated” by the Senate’s inability to move forward on gun control, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

“What we saw last night on the floor of the United States Senate was a shameful display of cowardice,” Earnest said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “Republicans have run around and spent the last week saying ‘radical Islamic extremism’ to anybody who will listen,” Earnest said. “But when it actually comes to preventing those extremists from being able to walk into a gun store and buy a gun, they’re AWOL. They won’t do anything about it because they’re scared of the NRA. That’s shameful.”

Earnest added: “The president has a responsibility as a symbol of the country, as a leader of the country, to go down to Orlando, as he did last week, and meet in person with the families who have lost loved ones in these terrible incidents. And the president himself said the most common question that those family members who lost loved ones asked him was, ‘Why does this keep happening?’”

Following the 2012 elementary school shootings at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., the Obama administration pressured Congress to enact stricter gun control measures, but the effort failed.

After Monday’s setback, Sandy Hook Promise — a group led by parents of victims in the 2012 school shooting — urged lawmakers on Capitol Hill not to leave for summer vacation until they passed new gun control laws.

“Just as victims of gun violence are not able to return home, Sandy Hook Promise asks that the Senate not return home until common sense gun safety measures pass and requests another vote,” the group said following the failed votes.

“Congress must come together to prevent future gun violence and tragedies,” Sandy Hook Promise co-founder Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old son, Dylan, was one of 20 children killed in the school massacre, said in a statement. “We won’t accept a series of failed votes and send our members home. They have a responsibility to all of our families. I call on our congressional leaders to find a path forward to protect our communities and save lives.”

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of the gun violence prevention group Americans for Responsible Solutions, lamented the Senate’s failure to “pave the way for responsible changes that would make our communities safer places to live”:

Faced with the opportunity to vote for proposals that would build a foundation of action for closing the loopholes in our laws that let terror suspects, felons, and domestic abusers have easy access to guns, some senators voted to protect those loopholes — for the irresponsible status quo. Once again, we wish we could use words like ‘unimaginable’ and ‘unthinkable’ to describe this reckless inaction — especially as it comes in the wake of the most deadly mass shooting in our nation’s history. But we cannot. Once again, some United States senators ignored the will of the American people, and stood with the gun lobby. The American people deserve leaders who will protect them and represent their interests, not the interests of the corporate gun lobby. We will do whatever it takes to ensure Americans know that their elected representatives in Washington betrayed them.

“Yesterday, the Senate failed us,” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer wrote in a letter to his constituents. “Even after everything we’ve been through, even after Orlando, Senate Republicans once again voted down a series of common sense amendments that would have prevented suspected terrorists from buying guns and closed the gun show loophole in our background checks system.

“I’m deeply disappointed,” Schumer continued. “No, I’m not just disappointed — I am truly, unshakably, terrifically angry. We have seen too much tragedy to let Senate Republicans do this to America again. It’s time to change our Senate. Far too many of my Republican colleagues are happily following the NRA’s lead to keep our dangerous gun policies in place. It’s time to get Republicans in the NRA’s pocket out of the Senate — and get pro-gun safety Democrats in.”

“It’s always the same,” Nevada Sen. Harry Reid told Reuters. “After each tragedy, we try — we Democrats try — to pass sensible gun safety measures. Sadly, our efforts are blocked by the Republican Congress who take their marching orders from the National Rifle Association.”

Senior Senate aides told the news service they were hopeful that a compromise proposal by Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins to bar gun purchases by those on the “no-fly” list would get voted on later this week.

Earlier Monday, Mathew Soto, whose sister, Sandy Hook teacher Victoria Soto, was killed in the school shootings, expressed his disgust.

“No one should ever be put in that position again,” Soto said outside a hearing in a lawsuit brought by 10 Newtown families against the maker of the gun used at Sandy Hook. “Yet so many families have to go through that process in this country. Because our country cannot come together on the issue of assault rifles, mass shootings will continue.”

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