21 October 2016
US Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (L) has accused the Republicans of marching to the beat of the NRA. Photo: Reuters
US Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (L) has accused the Republicans of marching to the beat of the NRA. Photo: Reuters

US Senate rejects gun-control measures despite Orlando massacre

The US Senate on Monday rejected four gun-control measures despite last week’s mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub, arguing that the bills go against the constitutional right to bear arms.

In a familiar setback for gun control advocates, the measures to expand background checks on gun buyers and curb gun sales to those on terrorism watch lists fell short of the 60 votes needed for passage in the 100-member chamber, Reuters reported.

Lawmakers were, however, still trying to forge a compromise that could keep firearms away from people on terrorism watch lists.

Republicans and their allies in the NRA gun lobby said the Democratic bills were too restrictive and trampled on the constitutional right to bear arms, while Democrats attacked the Republicans’ plans as too weak.

“It’s always the same. 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,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said the Democratic measures were ineffective and Democrats were not sincere in their effort.

“Instead of using this as an opportunity to push a partisan agenda or craft the next 30-second campaign ad”, Republican senators “are pursuing real solutions that can help keep Americans safer from the threat of terrorism”, McConnell said.

Gun control efforts failed after mass shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 and a conference center in San Bernardino, California, in 2015.

But some senators see resistance to gun restrictions softening as national security looms larger in the debate.

Senior Senate aides on Monday left open the possibility of other votes later in the week on unspecified gun control proposals.

Some Republicans pinned hopes on a compromise proposal by Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, which was not one of the four bills being considered on Monday.

Her plan would restrict gun purchases to a narrow group of suspects, including those on a “no-fly” list or a “selectee” list of people who require additional screening at airports.

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