The two congressmen who represents parts of Shelton in the U.S. House of Representatives are criticizing the failure of the U.S. Senate to approve legislation that would expand background checks on gun purchases.
“I am outraged that the Senate failed to pass this common-sense legislation,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Himes. “With more than 90% of Americans supporting background checks, it is simply unfathomable that this obvious legislation did not garner the needed votes to pass the Senate and move onto the House of Representatives.”
“The victims of Newtown — and the over 3,000 people who have been killed by gun violence since then — deserve better than that,” said Himes, a three-term Democrat from Greenwich.
DeLauro: ‘Outraged and angered’
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said the outcome was “shameful” in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and recent public opinion polls that showed strong support for the measure.
“’Outraged’ and ‘angered’ are the most appropriate words to describe how I, and millions of Americans, feel after today’s Senate vote,” DeLauro said. “The Senate’s inability to move forward on an issue that 90% of the country agrees on is shameful.
“How senators who voted against this proposal can look the families from Newtown, Aurora, Blacksburg and so many other places across this nation in the eye and tell them they did the right thing is beyond me,” said DeLauro, a 12-term Democrat from New Haven.
Shelton is divided between the Third District, represented by DeLauro, and the Fourth District, represented by Himes.
The gun legislation debate has been followed closely in Connecticut due to the Dec. 14 shooting at a Newtown school that led to the death of 20 first-grade students and six educators.
Explaining the amendment
The amendment was promoted by supporters as a bipartisan compromise that would expand existing background checks to gun shows and online sales. Supporters said this would close a loophole that can be used by criminals and people with histories of mental-health problems to purchase firearms without having to pass a background check.
The legislation was crafted by U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania. The two senators from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both backed the bill.
The mostly partisan breakdown
The amendment failed to get the 60 votes needed against a filibuster, with the vote being 54 in favor of the bill and 46 against it. Most Democrats voted for the bill and most Republicans voted against it.
Democrats opposing the bill were: Max Baucus (Montana), Mark Begich (Alaska), Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), and Mark Pryor (Arkansas), and Harry Reid (Nevada). Reid spoke in favor of the amendment and only voted no for procedural reasons, according to press reports (this will allow him to bring the amendment back up for reconsideration).
Republicans voting for the bill were: Susan Collins (Maine), Mark Kirk (Illinois), John McCain (Arizona), and Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania).
The NRA position
The National Rifle Association opposed the Manchin-Toomey amendment, calling it a “misguided” idea that would not reduce gun violence in society or schools.
“This amendment would have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors and some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution,” the NRA said in a release after the Senate 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,” continued the statement.
NRA officials said they “will continue to work with Republicans and Democrats who are committed to protecting our children in schools, prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law, and fixing our broken mental health system,” according to the release.
The NRA is a sportsmen’s group with more than four million members that focuses on upholding the Second Amendment.