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April 18, 2013

US Gun Control Advocates Disappointed by Vote

by Chris Simkins

U.S. gun control advocates are vowing to continue the fight for stricter gun laws. This as Senate lawmakers rejected the first proposed gun legislation since a mentally ill gunman killed 26 people at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.  

At the White House Wednesday, with parents of the school shooting victims alongside, President Obama pledged to keep fighting for gun control.

"So all and all, this is a pretty shameful day for Washington. But this effort is not over," Obama said.

His remarks came after the Senate defeated a proposal to expand background checks for gun buyers.

Mark Barden's seven year-old son Daniel was killed when a gunman opened fire on 20 children and six educators at a school in Newtown Connecticut last December.

"In any instant, any dad in America could be in my shoes. No one should feel the pain, no one should feel our pain or the pain felt by tens of thousands of people who have lost loved ones to senseless gun violence," Barden said.

On the Senate floor, gun rights advocates like Senator Richard Shelby insisted the legislation would infringe on the constitutional right to own guns.

"As one of the Justice Department's leading crime researchers has stated, the government's ability to implement near universal background checks would rely in part on quote 'requiring gun registration.' I oppose that," Shelby said.

Stephen Barton was shot by a gunman who sprayed bullets in a Colorado movie theater last July -- killing twelve people.  He says Americans should not only focus on mass tragedies but should realize that 12,000 people die every year from gun violence.  

"Perhaps over the medium term and maybe just as importantly, it is holding accountable those senators who voted against public safety.  If the Senators aren't going to vote for what is right, maybe then it is time to change the Senators," Barton said.

The defeat in the Senate was especially disappointing for Neil Heslin. His six year-old son Jesse was killed in the Newtown shooting.  He spent weeks trying to persuade members of Congress to approve new legislation.     

He says he will return to Washington to fight for laws that will prevent other mass shootings.

"I don't ever think you will be able to stop it completely but to have lost 20 innocent babies to a mass murder like that, it is something that never should have happened," Heslin said.
 
Gun control advocates say with more Americans supporting their cause, that could pressure lawmakers to take another look at measures to reduce gun violence.