Speaking from the Rose Garden at the White House, Mr. Obama described Wednesday asa pretty shameful day for Washington" and lambasted pro-gun lobbies for spreading "lies"

U.S. President Barack Obama pulled no punches when he delivered an angry statement condemning Senators — mostly Republican — for failing to come together and pass a compromise bill on background checks for gun sales, despite polls suggesting that an overwhelming majority of Americans supported such legislation.

Speaking from the Rose Garden at the White House, Mr. Obama described Wednesday as a pretty shameful day for Washington” and lambasted pro-gun lobbies for spreading “lies” about the legislation that had won much bipartisan backing. It is rare for any senior politician, leave alone the President, to use the word “lie” rather than a euphemism.

‘Intimidated’

“Unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose, because those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners, and that in turn intimidated a lot of Senators,” Mr. Obama said.

The President’s sharp criticism came after the Senate failed to give the bill the 60 votes it needed to pass. The compromise on background checks — hammered out by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — won only 54 yeas against 46 nays.

While four Republicans voted in favour the bill, four Democrats from the “red states” voted against it. Arizona Senator and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain broke with his party’s ranks and delivered stinging remarks against the conservative view that the bill would strip Americans of their Second Amendment rights.

“Just as I have long defended the Second Amendment to the Constitution, I have also long believed that it is perfectly reasonable to use available tools to conduct limited background checks, as this amendment prescribes, to help ensure that felons and the mentally-ill do not obtain guns they should not possess,” he said.

Background checks

The Manchin-Toomey duo, themselves considered staunchly pro-gun Senators, devised a system of background checks for gun sales that was less comprehensive than what Mr. Obama wanted, yet would have won the latter’s approval.

Their proposal was to expanded background checks to include private sales at gun shows and all online transactions on guns, while continuing to exempt most sales between family members and friends.

Nationwide support for gun control legislation gained momentum when the country was rocked by the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, in which Adam Lanza (20) fatally shot 20 children and six adult staff members.

After the first key measure to curb rampant gun use in the country failed to pass in Congress this week, Mr. Obama said, “The American people are trying to figure out how can something have 90 per cent support and yet not happen.”

Flanked by Gabby Giffords, former Congresswoman from Arizona who suffered traumatic head injuries after being shot in January 2011, and families of victims from the Newtown shooting, Mr. Obama said, “Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don’t have a right to weigh in on this issue? Do we think their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this debate?”

Keywords: US gun law

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