WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans backed by a small band of rural-state Democrats scuttled the most far-reaching gun control legislation in two decades on Wednesday, rejecting calls to tighten background checks on firearms buyers as they spurned the personal pleas of families of the victims of last winter's mass elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Attempts to ban assault-style rifles and high capacity ammunition magazines were also defeated in a series of showdown votes four months after a gunman killed 20 elementary school children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary.
A bid to loosen restrictions on concealed weapons carried across state lines also fell.
That last vote marked a rare defeat for the National Rifle Association on a day it generally emerged triumphant over President Barack Obama, gun-control advocates and individuals whose lives have been affected by mass shootings in Connecticut and elsewhere, some of whom watched from the spectator galleries above the Senate floor.
"Shame on you," shouted one of them, Patricia Maisch, who was present two years ago when a gunman in Tucson, Ariz., killed six and wounded 13 others, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Vice President Joe Biden gaveled the Senate back into order after the breach of decorum.
The background check measure commanded a majority of senators, 54-46, but that was well short of the 60 votes needed to advance. Forty-one Republicans and five Democrats sided to scuttle the plan.
Speaking in the Rose Garden shortly after the Senate vote, Obama said it was a "shameful day" in Washington and that a minority of senators decided "it wasn't worth it" to protect the nation's children.
Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more details.