(Photo: REUTERS/Gary Cameron)
The U.S. Senate rejected Wednesday an amendment aimed at strengthening the nation's laws on background checks to purchase a firearm.
The 54 to 46 vote fell six votes short of the 60 needed to advance the amendment. Four Republicans and 50 Democrats voted in favor of the measure. Five Democrats, mostly from conservative states and up for re-election in 2014, opposed the measure.
The amendment was drafted by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Since Manchin is one of the most conservative Democrats and Toomey is one of the most conservative Republicans in the Senate, proponents had high hopes that the measure would garner greater bipartisan support.
"I did what I thought was the right thing for our country. I sought out a compromise position that I thought could move the ball forward on an important matter of public safety," Toomey said in a press release. "My only regret is that our amendment did not pass. It's not the outcome I hoped for, but the Senate has spoken on the subject, and it's time to move on. We have a lot of other very important issues to deal with such as getting the economy back on track, dealing with the debt ceiling and creating more jobs for Pennsylvanians."
The National Rifle Association lobbied against the measure and threatened to defeat senators who voted for it in their next election, arguing that it would have criminalized private transfers of firearms between law-abiding citizens.
After the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Mass., President Barack Obama called for a number of new gun control measures, including a ban on assault weapons, limiting the size of gun clips, and expanded background checks. The expanded background checks is the only measure to come to a vote as the other proposals were dropped for lack of support.