President Barack Obama and relatives of victims of gun violence have expressed their deep disappointment after a vote in the US Senate threw out legislation to expand background checks on gun buyers.
The move had been a key element of the president’s plan to curb gun violence in the wake of December’s Newtown school massacre.
The proposal had sought to widen the current checks to include online and gun show sales.
“All that happened today was the preservation of the loophole that let’s dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check, it did not make our kids safer. So all in all this was a pretty shameful day for America,” said the president.
Despite nearly 90 percent of Americans supporting checks, the powerful gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, appears to have won the day.
The plan was blocked on a 54-46 vote, six short of the 60-vote hurdle needed to clear the Senate. There was obvious anger in the chamber as some condemned the vote.
Opponents of the plan will see this as a victory for gun rights groups, who say the checks would violate the right to bear arms. Instead they are pushing for more extensive enforcement of current gun laws.