Tri-State's senate delegation mostly opposed gun control measures

CINCINNATI - One of the Tri-State's six U.S. senators voted for both of the two gun control measures Wednesday that were strongly pushed by President Barack Obama.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, was the sole supporter from this region for a bill that would have revived a ban on rapid-firing assault weapons.

Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat from Indiana, joined Brown in supporting a bill that would have tightened background checks for gun buyers.

The remaining four senators from the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana region opposed both measures.

Obama lobbied for the bills after the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which a 20-year-old gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"This was a pretty shameful day for Washington," Obama said, standing next to the families of Newtown victims and former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded in a mass shooting in 2011.

"This effort isn't over," the president vowed.

The assault weapons ban was defeated in a 60-40 vote; the background check proposal was defeated in a 54-46 vote.

Senate leaders had agreed that 60 votes would be needed to pass any of the measures.

In all, the U.S. Senate rejected six potential measures involving firearms on Wednesday.

The other proposals included imposing more restrictions on ammunition clips, as well as a proposal backed by the National Rifle Association that would've limited rules for carrying concealed weapons across state lines.

What the Tri-State's Senate delegation said about their votes:

** Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio):

"It's a sad day when the U.S. Senate doesn't have the votes to pass an idea supported by nearly 90 percent of Americans."

"Universal background checks ensure responsible gun ownership and protect the Second Amendment, our children and our communities."

** Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio):

"Having carefully reviewed the Manchin-Toomey legislation, unfortunately, I do not believe it would be effective in preventing the kind of heartbreaking loss of life seen in Newtown or in other recent tragic incidents. It does, however, contain several provisions that would make it more difficult for law-abiding Ohioans to exercise their constitutionally-guaranteed rights.

"I do believe there are actions Congress can and should take to reduce gun violence without infringing on Second Amendment rights, and I look forward to supporting such amendments."

"This includes legislation that not only helps ensure those suffering from mental illness have access to the treatment they need, but also enforces and improves rules already on the books that limit their ability to threaten themselves and their communities. For instance, I will be supporting amendments to improve background checks by strengthening state reporting of individuals who courts have found to be mentally ill."

** Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.):

"Gun control is a legitimate issue for our country to debate and decide where and how we can fix the problems of violence," Paul said at a breakfast with reporters in Washington on Wednesday.

Last week, Paul issued a statement criticizing what he said were continual last-minute changes being made to the various gun control bills.

"Unfortunately, the effort to push through legislation that no one had read highlights one of the primary reasons we announced our intention to force a 60-vote threshold. We believe the abuse of the process is how the rights of Americans are systematically eroded and we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent it."

The White House criticized Paul for comments he made Wednesday about Obama appearing with the families of Newtown victims. "In some cases, I think the president has used them as props," Paul said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney later replied, "I don't know if Sen. Paul met with the Newtown families, but the Newtown families aren't here for the president. They're here because their children were murdered."

** Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.):

"In my view, we should focus on keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and those with mental issues that could cause them to be a threat to our society," McConnell said in a speech of the Senate floor. "The government should not punish or harass law-abiding citizens in the exercise of their Second Amendment rights.

"And it's that focus, on protecting communities and preserving our constituents' constitutional rights that will be my guide as I vote on amendments to this bill."

Shortly after the votes, McConnell was criticized by gun control advocates for photographs posted on his Facebook page that mocked their efforts.

The images showed McConnell holding his hand in a zero gesture, with the caption, "You can have this much gun control."

** Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.):

"Reducing gun violence in our country is an important discussion, and I am glad we are having this debate in Congress."

"While I appreciate the good-faith effort of many senators to address this significant issue, I will not support legislation that fails to address

the real problems that lead to gun violence and would infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens." 

** Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.):

"I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and am proud to stand up for all law-abiding Hoosiers who exercise their right to keep and bear arms."

"Over the last 14 years, more than 3.5 million Hoosiers have purchased a firearm using the background check system. Currently, however, too many individuals with criminal records or serious mental illnesses are getting guns by exploiting loopholes in the current system and, in the process, endangering the lives of others and the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

"After all, history shows that Congress begins reexamining proposals that would infringe on citizens' Second Amendment rights, like the assault weapons ban, which I oppose, only when someone who shouldn't have had guns in the first place uses them to commit mass murder." 

"By improving our system of background checks as Sens. Manchin and Toomey proposed, we would increase the likelihood that terrorists, felons, and the seriously mentally ill won't be able to jeopardize the rights of law-abiding citizens."

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