Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases Bill Filibustered

Since the attack on an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, gun laws and background checks have been a big issue in Washington. Many Americans wanted to see stricter gun laws that included universal background checks. To overturn a filibuster, the Senate would have had to post at least 60 votes in favor for expanding background checks to gun shows and internet sales.

The Senate voted 54-46, falling six votes short of the 60 vote threshold needed to overturn the filibuster. The legislation was written by Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) and was the centerpiece of gun control efforts in the wake of the Newtown shootings. Without background screenings for all gun sales, many people with criminal backgrounds can buy guns at trade shows and online.

About 9 out of 10 Americans support universal background checks, according to polls. The failed vote reflects the enduring power of the National Rifle Association, which opposed the bill. NRA’s top lobbyist Chris Cox said after the vote, “As we have noted previously, expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools.”

There are still eight other amendments still set to be voted on, including a Democratic bill to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, and a Republican substitute that aims to address federal trafficking, mental health, and school safety.

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