At his press conference reacting to the defeat of the bipartisan compromise on expanded background checks for gun sales in the Senate, President Barack Obama said the senators who voted against the bill bowed to political pressure.
“I talked to several of these senators over the past few weeks. They’re all good people. I know all of them were shocked by tragedies like Newtown. And I also understand that they come from states that are strongly pro-gun. I have consistently said there are regional differences when it comes to guns and that both sides have to listen to each other,” Obama said. “But the fact is most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn’t want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun. There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this. It came down to politics.”
The background check legislation was defeated by just eight votes. Obama said the senators who shot it down did so because of the worry that the “vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections” and the “worry that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment.” He also pointed out that, though the opposition to the bill came mainly from Republicans, members of both parties voted against it.
“Obviously, a lot of Republicans had that fear, but Democrats had that fear, too. And so they caved to the pressure. And they started looking for an excuse, any excuse to vote no,” said Obama.