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Background Checks Voted Down; Senate Gun Bill In Peril

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CBS News graphic. CBS News graphic.
WASHINGTON -

In a major setback for gun control advocates, the Senate Wednesday voted down a key amendment to the embattled Democratic gun bill, signaling the increasingly dim prospects of any meaningful legislative action aimed at strengthening America's gun laws.

The bipartisan Manchin-Toomey amendment, a background check expansion devised by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and a handful of other lawmakers, earned only 54 votes, falling six votes short of the 60-vote threshold. Vice President Joe Biden, who led the Obama administration's months-long lobbying effort on behalf of stronger gun laws, presided over the vote.

The failure of the Manchin-Toomey amendment, which was crafted over weeks of negotiation with the aim of attracting Republican support in both the Senate and, eventually, the House, could serve as the death knell for the larger piece of legislation, though it's possible Reid will bring new amendments to the floor at a later date.

A slew of other amendments, including the assault weapons ban, also failed to gain the necessary traction.

Speaking passionately in remarks after the votes, President Obama lamented the "shameful" events in Congress, and pledged the fight would not end with today's Senate action.

"Sooner or later, we're going to get this right. The memories of these children demand it and so do the American people," said Mr. Obama, who was standing alongside families of the Newtown victims as well as former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head two years ago in the Tucson shootings.

Go to CBSNews.com for more on the vote

Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe released this statement after Wednesday's vote:

"Many efforts were made today to address gun violence, but a majority of the restrictions presented were all predicated on one assumption that somehow we think that the criminal element will single out this one law to comply with. Instead amendments such as the one to ban assault weapons and another to expanded the gun background check system would have only further restricted firearms for law-abiding Oklahomans. We can and should reduce violent crime in our nation, and we can do so without compromising our Constitutional rights. This is why I cosponsored and voted for a common-sense substitute amendment that would have placed the focus on enforcing current firearm laws, addressing mental health illness in our nation, and providing adequate resources to prosecute criminals and prevent them from attaining guns.

"We have a historic privilege in the United States to exercise our right to keep and bear arms. As my liberal friends continue this battle on into next week, I will also continue the fight to prevent passage of any legislation that relinquishes citizens' Second Amendment rights."

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