WASHINGTON D.C. (WRIC/AP) — A divided Senate has blocked rival election-year plans to curb guns, eight days after the horror of Orlando’s mass shooting intensified pressure on lawmakers to act.
In largely party-line votes, proposals from each side – Democrat and Republican – were rejected. One would have kept extremists from acquiring guns and another was designed to shore up the government’s existing system of required background checks for many firearms purchases.
The Senate visitors’ galleries were unusually crowded for a Monday evening – including people wearing orange t-shirts that read #ENOUGH gun violence. Each measure fell short of the 60 votes needed to progress. Democrats called the GOP proposals unacceptably weak while Republicans said the Democratic plans were overly restrictive.
Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after the Senate vote:
“After the massacre in Orlando, my office was flooded with phone calls and emails from Virginians with one message for Congress: We don’t just want to hear thoughts and prayers on behalf of the victims – we want to see action to address gun violence. In the wake of this attack, members of Congress must be willing to take a fresh look at solutions to make our communities safer while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
“As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I know the challenges we face every day in dealing with the threat of violent terrorists determined to do our nation harm. Given those challenges, it makes absolutely no sense to me that the Senate would refuse to take these commonsense steps to strengthen our background check system and close a dangerous loophole that allows suspected terrorists to legally purchase guns.
“While no single law will end gun violence or completely protect us from terrorism, it is clear that Americans want action. I am confident that tonight’s votes will not be the last word on this matter.”
The votes follow a Senate filibuster last week that mobilized support in Congress for the issue. This came as a response to the deadly attacks in Orlando, which claimed the lives of 49 people at a gay nightclub, becoming the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.