Hopes for new gun control laws were shot to pieces on Wednesday when the U.S. Senate failed to pass Senate Bill 649.
Falling six votes short of the 60 votes needed, the bill included several amendments which would have mandated that any individual who could not buy a firearm be listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and would have provided a consistent background check process. The amendments would have also regulated assault weapons, regulated large capacity ammunition magazines, improved the availability of records to the NICBCS, addressed mental illness in the criminal justice system and ended straw purchases and trafficking of illegal firearms.
In a speech on Wednesday, President Barack Obama said the gun control measures couldn’t have prevented every act of violence, but, “… if it could have prevented those people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future while preserving our Second Amendment rights, we had an obligation to try. And this legislation met that test. And too many senators failed theirs.”
“So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” Obama said.
Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina said she approached the proposals in the bill “… with a basic test: is it common sense, will it be effective and will it protect the rights of responsible gun owners in my state.”
“I supported the common sense solution reached by my colleagues Senators Manchin and Toomey — a Democrat and a Republican — that expanded background checks with important exemptions,” Hagan said. “This bipartisan proposal respected law-abiding gun owners by exempting transfers between family members and friends, allowing concealed carry permits issued within the last five years to serve in lieu of a background check, and explicitly banning the federal government from creating a registry,” she said.
Hagan also supported her fellow U.S. Senator from North Carolina, Sen. Richard Burr’s proposal to protect the second amendment rights of veterans, and Texas Senator John Cornyn’s proposal that would have allowed individuals who qualify for a concealed carry permit in their home state to be able to carry their firearm in any other state.
“I did not support amendments banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines because I am concerned these measures could infringe on the rights of lawful gun owners in North Carolina,” Hagan said.
U.S. Representative Richard Hudson, for North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District, said gun control measures will not solve gun violence in the country, “ … but they will trample on our Second Amendment rights.”
“I applaud the bipartisan majority of Senators today who voted to protect our Constitutional rights, and now hope we can finally start to have the important conversation about the underlying causes of violence, instead of pushing a political agenda aimed at stripping us of our most basic freedoms,” Hudson said.
Robert E. Lee, owner of Rockingham Guns & Ammo, said that while he has no problem with some of the amendments in the bill, such as “… more extensive background checks,” he does have a problem with regulating ammunition magazines. He said he understands the idea behind regulating magazines because larger magazines have the potential to “… lay down more fire,” but, “… it is very easy to change out a magazine.”
Lee went on to say that Congress is not finished with gun control attempts and the bill being shot down is just “… smoke and mirrors.”
“The biggest problem is not with the honest citizen who purchases weapons legally, but with the thug who is breaking into people’s houses and stealing guns … ,” Lee said.
Obama said the effort to reduce gun violence is not over. “I want to make it clear to the American people we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence, so long as the American people don’t give up on it. Even without Congress, my administration will keep doing everything it can to protect more of our communities,” he said.
Lee said, “There’s more coming … what I fear is executive orders. This president has passed more executive orders than any other president.”
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who has been on the front lines of the anti-gun movement, said she was disappointed by the vote, but knew “… this was an uphill battle. I believe the American people are far ahead of their elected officials on this issue, and I will continue to fight for a renewed ban on assault weapons.”
“I will carry on this fight against military-style assault weapons, and I ask of the American people that they continue to pressure their elected officials to take action. It’s long overdue that we take serious steps to remove these dangerous firearms and high-capacity ammunition magazines from society,” Feinstein said.
Lee said, “The problem is the simple fact that they are not enforcing laws that are already on the books. We don’t need any more laws. We need to enforce the laws that are currently in place.”
Obama concluded his speech with a reference to the mass shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., by saying, “I believe we’re going to be able to get this done. Sooner or later, we are going to get this right. The memories of these children demand it. And so do the American people.”
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.