Latest gun control bid falters in
Congress, Democrat sit-in ends
Send a link to a friend
[June 24, 2016]
By Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Another attempt at
gun control faltered in the U.S. Congress on Thursday despite outrage at
the Orlando massacre, as a proposed ban on firearms sales to people
being monitored for links to terrorism barely avoided being killed in
In a procedural vote, the Senate narrowly rejected an attempt to
scrap the plan by Republican Senator Susan Collins to prevent guns
getting into the hands of people on two U.S. government terrorism
But the proposal looked short of the support it would need to
advance through the chamber, and Republican leaders said the Senate
would switch from debating gun control to other matters until at
least after the July 4 holiday.
It was the latest setback for proponents of gun restrictions who
have been thwarted for years on Capitol Hill by gun rights defenders
and the National Rifle Association.
Frequent efforts at gun control have failed despite anger at mass
shootings like the killings at an elementary school in Newtown,
Connecticut, in 2012 and in San Bernardino, California, last year.
“Eventually this problem will get addressed again one of two ways:
We find a breakthrough, which I will seek, or there will be another
terrorist attack which will bring us right back to this issue. I
hope we can do it without another terrorist attack,” said Senator
Lindsey Graham, a Republican who supported Collins.
A few hours earlier, Democratic lawmakers ended a sit-in protest in
the House of Representatives over guns.
Fueled by Chinese food and pizzas, dozens of them stayed on the
House floor all night, at times bursting into the civil rights
anthem "We Shall Overcome" before giving up their protest after 25
"It's not a struggle that lasts for one day, or one week, or one
month, or one year," said Representative John Lewis, a Democrat from
Georgia and a key figure in the civil rights protests of the 1960s.
"We're going to win the struggle," said Lewis, who led the House
Dramatic protests by legislators are rare in the U.S. Capitol and
the sit-in underscored how sensitive the gun control issue became
after this month's Florida attack, the deadliest mass shooting in
modern U.S. history.
Opinion polls show Americans are increasingly in favor of more
restrictions on guns in a country with more than 310 million
weapons, about one for every citizen.
After a gunman pledging allegiance to Islamic State fatally shot 49
people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, some senators had seen
resistance to gun restrictions softening because the issue had
partly become one of national security.
But Collins' measure received only 52 votes in the 100-seat Senate
test vote, short of the 60 votes that would be needed for approval
in future Senate procedural votes.
[to top of second column]
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (R) applauds as Rep. John
Lewis (D-GA) (L) waves to supporters along with House Democrats
after their sit-in over gun-control law on Capitol Hill in
Washington, U.S., June 23, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
While her plan could be revived next month, it is unclear if she has
the momentum to overcome pro-gun rights forces in Congress who argue
that gun control measures in Congress have been too restrictive and
trample on the constitutional right to bear arms. Four other gun
control measures failed earlier this week.
Collins, a Maine lawmaker, wants to forbid gun sales to anyone on
the U.S. government's "No Fly List" for terrorism suspects or the
"Selectee List" of people who receive extra security screening at
Despite the lack of legislation, the gun debate has stirred
passions. The House Democrats' sit-in brought an outpouring of
Jennifer Hoppe, deputy director of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense
in America, said that in less than 24 hours from Wednesday, about
130,000 calls were made from supporters of gun control to members of
First lady Michelle Obama backed the House Democrats' protest.
"We have grieved for too many children and wept for too many
families after shootings. Chicago. Tucson. Newtown. Charleston.
Orlando. #Enough," she wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
The Democrats were seeking votes on legislation to expand background
checks for gun purchases, as well as measures to curb the sale of
weapons to people on government watch lists
Republicans allied with the NRA gun rights group say that while they
want to combat terrorism, they represent constituents who believe
firmly in the constitutional right to bear arms.
"It’s a tough issue. For people like myself, who come from a hunting
and fishing state, it’s pretty hard,” said Senator Orrin Hatch, a
conservative Utah Republican who voted against Collins.
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan, Timothy Ahmann, Timothy
Gardner and Eric Walsh, Doina Chiacu; Writing by Alistair Bell;
Editing by Bill Trott and Peter Cooney)
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.