Gun reforms stall in Senate

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 29, 2013

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A bill that would address gun violence and safety after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., failed to advance during a procedural vote April 17.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, Nev.) promised to continue the reform debate after the Senate voted 54-46 in favor of measures to prevent criminals and those who are mentally ill from obtaining guns. At least 60 votes were needed to overcome a filibuster and then pass the bill. Reid has not said when he anticipates to restart consideration of the bill.

Most Republicans and a few Democrats opposed the measure and worked to block it from going forward because of concerns about protecting Second Amendment rights and the creation of a federal gun registry, even though the bill would have made a national database illegal. The registry charge was baseless, said Sen. Joe Manchin (D, W.Va.), who sponsored an amended version of the legislation.

An intense lobbying campaign by families whose children were killed during the Dec. 14, 2012, Newtown massacre preceded the vote. Democrats also had tried to convince colleagues who voted no that Second Amendment rights would not be undermined.

“Moving forward, I am hopeful that my colleagues and I can work together as we remember all the families who have suffered from senseless acts of violence across America,” Manchin said. “If we muster just one ounce of the courage these families have shown, then we, as a legislative body, can truly make a difference.”

The American Medical Association supports reforms to improve gun safety and reduce violence. “The loss of human life to acts of violence should concern us as a nation, and should provoke a national response,” the AMA stated in an April 12 letter to Senate leaders in support of the legislation.

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