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Senate Blocks Gun Control Measures in Wake of Orlando Shootings

Less than 10 days after the mass shootings in Orlando, Fla., the U.S. Senate blocked a series of proposals to restrict access to firearms, including measures to require background checks at gun shows and another to block gun sales to suspected terrorists.

A measure to require that gun sales at gun shows and over the Internet be subjected to background checks failed a procedural vote, with 56 senators voting against it and 44 in favor. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) broke ranks with Democrats and voted to block the measure from going further. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) voted in favor.

The measure had been authored by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who last week staged a filibuster to demand a vote on gun control measures in the aftermath of the shootings in Orlando, Fla., the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

A measure from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to block gun sales to suspected terrorists also failed, with 47 in favor and 53 against. It would give the government authority to block such sales if there was a “reasonable belief” the weapon would be used to conduct terrorism. Opponents argued that it would give too much authority to the federal government without judicial review. Kirk and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) voted in favor, and Heitkamp voted against.

Also failing to advance was a measure sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) that would have delayed for three days the sale of firearms to a suspected terrorist or those investigated for ties to terrorism. To permanently block the sale, prosecutors then would have go to court to prove probable cause that weapon would be used in terrorist activity.

The Cornyn measure had the support of the National Rifle Assn., but Democrats argued that the measure created too many roadblocks for authorities to ultimately keep the weapons from terrorism suspects. Kirk, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) voted with Democrats against it, and Manchin and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) voted with Republicans for it.

Another measure, from Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), would have boosted funding for the background check system and commissioned a study on the causes of mass shootings. But it too failed to get the required number of votes to advance.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign tweeted out messages in advance of the vote, urging supporters to call their lawmakers to urge passage. After the measures failed, her campaign sent out a release saying simply, “Enough,” followed by the names of the victims of the Orlando shootings.

 

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