Apparently speaking without notes, President Obama stood in front of parents who lost children at Newtown and Gabby Giffords and furiously criticized the Senate and the NRA for a failure to break the Republican filibuster on background checks.
Introduced by a father who lost his child at Newtown (and who pledged "We are not defeated, and we will not be defeated"), Obama insisted that it was "a pretty shameful day for Washington." Even as the Senate continued to vote on — and not approve — amendments to the gun bill, the president lashed out at their failure to approve the Manchin-Toomey proposal to increase background checks for gun sales. That bipartisan compromise did little to upend a Republican-led filibuster on a 54-46 vote (details below), prompting a visitor in the gallery to cry out, "Shame on you!" (Here's more on the reaction from the other side.)
Sharing that opinion, Obama blasted the Senate vote. Noting that expanded background checks are supported by about 90 percent of Americans, he said:
A few minutes ago, 90 percent of Democrats in the Senate voted for that idea. But it's not going to happen. Because 90 percent of Republicans voted against it. … A majority of members voted yes … but by this continued distortion of Senate rules, a minority was able to block it from moving forward.
He didn't spare that minority. "The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill," he insisted, by suggesting that the bill would lead to a national gun registry, "even though it did the opposite." Those lies served a purpose, he argued, upsetting "an intense minority of gun owners" who then demanded their Senators oppose the proposal.