Bloomberg clock cleaned

Apr 17, 2013 by

Calls Vote ‘Damning Indictment Of Stranglehold That Special Interests Have’


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg ripped the U.S. Senate for failing to pass a bipartisan effort to expand background checks.


The measure was defeated in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, failing to garner the 60 votes necessary to block a Republican-led filibuster.

The measure, co-sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.), was blocked by a vote of 54-46.


“Today’s vote is a damning indictment of the stranglehold that special interests have on Washington,” Bloomberg said. “More than 40 U.S. senators would rather turn their backs on the 90 percent of Americans who support comprehensive background checks than buck the increasingly extremist wing of the gun lobby.”


Bloomberg is the Co-Chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.


Hours before the vote was held, two more senators — Republican Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Democrat Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — declared they opposed the background check measure. Their announcements, along with opposition from other Republicans and some moderate Democrats, left supporters without the votes needed for passage.


Bloomberg blamed both sides for failing to pass the measure.


“Democrats – who are so quick to blame Republicans for our broken gun laws – could not stand united,” Bloomberg said. “And Republicans – who are so quick to blame Democrats for not being tough enough on crime – handed criminals a huge victory, by preserving their ability to buy guns illegally at gun shows and online and keeping the illegal trafficking market well-fed.”


Rejection of the provision marks a jarring setback for gun control advocates, who had hoped December’s slayings of 20 children and six educators at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school would sway Congress to curb firearms violence. It is also seen as a victory for the National Rifle Association, which has fought the background check expansion as a misguided crackdown on gun rights that criminals would ignore anyway.


In a statement issued following the vote, Chris Cox with the NRA said the proposal “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.”


On the vote, Democratic Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Max Baucus of Montana joined Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Heitkamp in voting against the proposal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a supporter of the plan, switched his vote to the prevailing “no” side to permit him to call for a revote in the future.


Begich, Pryor and Baucus are all seeking re-election next year.


Among Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John McCain of Arizona and Toomey sided with Democrats.


Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head while holding a Congress On Your Corner event two years ago, took to Twitter to blast the Senate for failing to pass the Manchin-Toomey amendment.


“As of this morning, we’re short. We need more votes. It’s close,” Manchin said in a brief interview Wednesday. Asked how he could get the needed votes with so many opponents, he said, “We’re just hoping the good Lord will enter their heart and maybe change a few.”


Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said “Expanded background checks would not have prevented Newtown. Criminals do not submit to background checks.”


Ahead of Wednesday afternoon’s vote, the White House said it wasn’t giving up hope. Presidential spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was working on building support.


The Senate considered an amendment to the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, which would have implemented federal background checks for most gun purchases.


“Senators Manchin and Toomey – as well as Majority Leader Reid and Senators Schumer, Kirk, Collins, McCain and others – deserve real credit for coming together around a compromise bill that struck a fair balance, and President Obama and Vice-President Biden deserve credit for their leadership since the Sandy Hook massacre,” Bloomberg said. “But even with some bi-partisan support, a common-sense public safety reform died in the U.S. Senate at the hands of those who are more interested in attempting to protect their own political careers – or some false sense of ideological purity – than protecting the lives of innocent Americans.”


“The only silver lining is that we now know who refuses to stand with the 90 percent of Americans – and in 2014, our ever-expanding coalition of supporters will work to make sure that voters don’t forget,” Bloomberg said.


Two local governors and Maryland’s governor pulled out a last-ditch effort to urge the Senate to pass the bipartisan gun control measure going up for a vote.


Before the vote, Govs. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), Dannel Malloy (D-Conn.) and Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) wrote to all members of the Senate:


“The majority of Americans support common-sense solutions to gun violence. Millions of them support proposals that go above and beyond the expanded background check legislation you are considering – as do we.


“However, while this proposal falls short of the universal background checks that are truly needed to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, we believe the Senate must take this first step to address gun violence in our communities and honor the victims.”


The governors added that it is up to the Senate to act so gun statutes are universal nationwide.


“In our own states, we’ve enacted legislation since the mass shootings in Aurora and Newtown to combat gun violence and make our communities safer while respecting everyone’s Second Amendment rights. But gun violence respects no borders, and our states’ laws alone are insufficient to systemically address gun violence on a national basis. Without federal action, our citizens are only as safe as the state with the weakest gun laws.


“We need the federal government to take the lead and enact reasonable laws to reduce gun violence by, at a minimum, ensuring that more gun purchasers pass a federal background check. The American people are clear on this issue – more than 90% support background checks prior to gun purchases. They understand that if you can’t pass a background check, you should not be able to buy a gun. We stand with them, and urge you to do the same.”


The governors also urged Congress to take up debate on high-capacity magazines, stricter penalties for gun trafficking and better school safety initiatives. None of those items are currently contained in the Senate measure because they do not have the necessary 60 votes to avoid a filibuster.


Following Wednesday’s vote, Gov. Malloy issued the following statement:


“On the issue of enhanced background checks, the American people are clear – 92 percent support them. The real question is how do the senators that voted against this most basic, common sense reform justify their vote against this measure?


“The members who voted against this proposal should be ashamed of themselves,” he wrote.


An Associated Press-GfK poll this month showed that 49 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws. That was down from 58 percent who said so in January.


Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Wednesday that gun control was a legitimate issue to debate but didn’t think victims and their families should be used “like props” to politicize a tragedy.


Relatives of victims of Newtown and other mass shootings have been lobbying lawmakers to restrict guns, and several planned to be in the visitors’ gallery during Wednesday’s vote, a spokeswoman said. Many have also appeared at news conferences, including at the White House.


“I think that, in some cases, the president has used them as props and that disappoints me,” Paul said at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.


Carney responded that the Newtown families were in Washington “because their children were murdered. They’re here asking the Senate to do something that’s common sense,” Carney said.


In a climactic day, the Senate planned to hold eight other votes Wednesday besides the one on background checks, all of them amendments to a broad gun control measure.


They included Democratic proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, which are expected to lose; a Republican proposal requiring states to honor other states’ permits allowing concealed weapons, which faces a close vote; and a GOP substitute for the overall gun measure.


Taking a page from the NRA, a letter to senators from Mayors Against Illegal Guns warned that the group would keep track of how they vote on the background check and several other amendments. The group is funded by  Bloomberg, who has spent heavily to support gun control candidates.


The AP-GfK poll was conducted from April 11-15 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,004 randomly chosen adults and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.


(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

via Bloomberg Rips Senate For Failing To Expand Background Checks « CBS New York.

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