US Senate rejects gun-control measures after Orlando shooting

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Four Gun Control Measures Voted Down By Senate

WASHINGTON, June 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Monday rejected four measures restricting gun sales after last week's massacre in an Orlando nightclub, dealing a bitter setback to advocates who have failed to get even modest gun curbs through Congress despite repeated mass shootings.

SEE ALSO: Estimated 50,000 people attend vigil for Orlando victims

A group of senators was still hoping to forge a compromise for later in the week aimed at keeping firearms away from people on terrorism watch lists, although that effort faced an uphill battle with critics in both parties skeptical about its chances.

Last week's massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, had intensified pressure on lawmakers, who moved swiftly to take the issue to the Senate floor. But the gun-control measures lost in largely party-line votes that showed the lingering political power in Congress of gun rights defenders and the National Rifle Association.

See victims from the Orlando nightclub shooting:

Orlando shooting victims
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Orlando shooting victims
ORLANDO, USA - JUNE 13: Pictures of one of the massacre victims left at a make shift memorial at Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, USA on June 13, 2016. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, USA - JUNE 13: Pictures of one of the massacre victims left at a make shift memorial at Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, USA on June 13, 2016. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People wave rainbow flags and hold portraits on the Place de la Comedie in Montpellier on June 13, 2016 as they pay homage to the victims of a shooting at a gay nighclub in Orlando. / AFP / SYLVAIN THOMAS (Photo credit should read SYLVAIN THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Since he was a boy, Anthony Luis Laureano Disla loved to dance. Early Sunday morning, he was dancing and laughing with his friends at Pulse nightclub in Orlando when a gunman stormed and shot him. Laureano Disla was 25. His obituary is linked in our bio. #PulseShooting #OrlandoUnited #PrayForOrlando #OrlandoStrong
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon moved from Puerto Rico to Vero Beach, longtime friend Daniel Gmys-Casiano said, and was immediately promoted to manager at a shoe store. He was a protector, confidant and hero, Gmys-Casiano said. Wilson-Leon died in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. He was 37. His obituary is linked in our bio. #PulseShooting #OrlandoUnited #PrayForOrlando #OrlandoStrong
Enrique L. Rios left his home in New York to spend the weekend celebrating a friend's birthday in Orlando. He was killed in the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub Sunday. He was 25. His obituary is linked in our bio. #PulseShooting #OrlandoUnited #PrayForOrlando #OrlandoStrong
To Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, good living was all about looking, smelling and feeling his best, loved ones said. He and his longtime partner, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, were together at Pulse nightclub early Sunday, and both were among the victims who died in the shooting. Perez was 35. His obituary is linked in our bio. #PulseShooting #OrlandoUnited #PrayForOrlando #OrlandoStrong
#PulseShooting victim Mercedez Marisol Flores lived "her life way she wanted to"
#PulseShooting victim Javier Jorge-Reyes had "a caring heart"
#PulseShooting victim Darryl Roman Burt II: The kind of person always willing to help
#PulseShooting victim Jerald Arthur Wright: part of a tight-knit Disney family
#PulseShooting victim Juan Chavez Martinez remembered as kind boss
#PulseShooting victim Edward Sotomayor Jr.: Travel site brand manager mourned
#PulseShooting victim Stanley Almodovar III: "Amazing person with a good soul"
#PulseShooting victim Kimberly 'KJ' Morris: Bouncer at nightclub always wore a smile
#PulseShooting Juan Ramon Guerrero: Clubgoer went to Pulse with boyfriend
#PulseShooting victim Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz called "wonderful cousin"
#PulseShooting victim Luis Vielma: Theme-park worker was "true friend"
#PulseShooting victim Eric Ivan Ortiz Rivera: Always willing to help
#PulseShooting victim Eddie Justice texted his mother he loved her during shooting
#PulseShooting victim Shane Evan Tomlinson had band performance just hours before he died
#PulseShooting victim Miguel Angel Honorato was Apopka father of 3
#PulseShooting victim Jason Josaphat was a soft-spoken teen excited for the journey ahead
#PulseShooting victim Amanda Alvear wouldn't want hate spread in her name
#PulseShooting victim Brenda Lee Marquez McCool was a mother of of 12
#PulseShooting victim Christopher Sanfeliz was a bank worker from Tampa
#PulseShooting victim Simon Carrillo was a good boss who loved to travel
Shooting victim Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez: 'Whatever you needed, you could count on him'
#PulseShooting victim Christopher Leinonen was a gay rights activist
#PulseShooting victim Jonathan Camuy: Great employee of @LaVozKids on @telemundo
Soft-spoken teen #PulseShooting victim Jason Josaphat was excited for the journey ahead
#PulseShooting victim Gilberto Silva was "light, life" of family
#PulseShooting victim Oscar Aracena returned from vacation a day before he died
#PulseShooting victim Tevin Eugene Crosby was a hardworking business owner
Leroy Valentin Fernandez was a natural performer. His zeal for life spilled offstage and f…
The last image friends have of Omar Capo shows the 20-year-old doing what he loves: Dancin…
Shane Evan Tomlinson sang with his band Frequency Saturday night at Blue Martini nightclub…
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 "He was the type of guy who goes along with anybody."
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33, worked at a blood donation center and "loved to dance salsa"
#PulseShooting victim Angel Luis Candelario-Padro was in Orlando to start a new life
YOU MATTERED❤@TheTalkSoup: Cory James Connell, 21, #PulseNightclub #Orlando #victims
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32, worked at Pulse, her aunt called her murder "senseless"
We won't let you go unheard, Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old #PulseShooting
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old. Rest in Peace. 🌈❤️
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32, was with his boyfriend, Juan Guerrero, 22, at the club
Akyra Murray -- 18 -- Just graduated. Star basketball player (1,000 points in her career). #6of49 #WeSpeakYourName
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32, "was always trying to do stuff to make you feel better"
#RIP Martin Benitez Torres, 33, from Puerto Rico was in Orlando with family. #WeAreOrlando
R.I.P. Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old #PulseShooting
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35, had a son and worked at Disney Live!
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37, was the owner of D’Magazine Salon and Spa:
#RIP Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 and Luis Conde, 39, were together 13 years. #WeAreOrlando
#Remembertheirnames Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan #OrlandoStrong
Be thou at peace: @USArmyReserve CPT Antonio Davon Brown, Iraq/Afg vet, killed in #Orlando
Rest In Peace handsome, Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old #PulseShooting

Republicans and their allies in the NRA gun lobby said the Democratic bills were too restrictive and trampled on the constitutional right to bear arms. Democrats attacked the Republicans' two proposals as too weak and accused them of being in the thrall of the NRA.

"What am I going to tell the community of Orlando?" asked Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida after the votes. "Sadly, what I'm going to tell them is the NRA won again."

Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, attacked the Democrats' amendments and thanked Republicans for rejecting them. "Today, the American people witnessed an embarrassing display in the United States," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said the Democratic measures were ineffective and Republican senators "are pursuing real solutions that can help keep Americans safer from the threat of terrorism."

As the parties remain largely locked in their positions, polls show Americans are increasingly in favor of more restrictions on guns in a country with more than 310 million weapons, about one for every citizen.

The issue is already a prominent one for voters in November elections. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton supports new gun restrictions, while Republican Donald Trump expressed a willingness to talk to the NRA about the issue.

After the votes, Clinton issued a one-word statement: "Enough." It was followed by the names and ages of the dead in Orlando.

See gun control activists protest:

2016 groups shaping the election: Gun control activists
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2016 groups shaping the election: Gun control activists
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 10: Yvonne Crasso, holds a picture of her sister Nina Michele Bradley, who was killed by a gun at age 23 in 2012, during a rally on the East Front lawn of the Capitol to demand that Congress take action on gun control legislation, September 10, 2015. Ashley Cech, whose mother Yvonne Cech, a librarian, survived the Sandy Hook shootings, appears with Crasso. The event, titled #Whateverittakes Day of Action, was hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety and featured speeches by political leaders and families of gun violence victims. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, USA - JANUARY 4: A group of people demonstrate in front of the White House for greater gun control to help curb gun violence in Washington, USA on January 4, 2015. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 10: Natasha Christopher, center, holds up a photo of her son Akeal Christopher, who was 14 years old when he was shot in the back of the head and killed while walking home in Brooklyn, New York, during a press conference, on Capitol Hill on December 10, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The conference featured supporters of gun control and family members of gun violence victims. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 10: Miyoshia Bailey cries as she describes how her only son, Cortez Bailey, 23, was shot to death in Chicago, Illinois, during a press conference, on Capitol Hill on December 10, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The conference featured supporters of gun control and family members of gun violence victims. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
Amy Schumer reacts as her distant cousin, Senator Chuck Schumer, watches during a news conference in New York, Monday, Aug. 3, 2015. The Schumers are teaming up to try and enact gun control regulations. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Amanda Wilcox, a member of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, shows a photo of her daughter, Laura, who was killed in a shooting at a mental health clinic in 2001, following a hearing on gun violence held in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Wilcox joined a panel that included law enforcement officials, an Arizona gun show dealer, a California gun club owner and other gun control advocates put together by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, chairman of the House Democrats' Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
A volunteer sits by a campaign sign stating support of gun control before an event by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, at Broward College in Davie, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 05: Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) (L) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are joined by Newtown Action Alliance Vice Chairman David Stowe (R) to announce the re-introduction of legislation that would ban high-capacity ammunition magazines at the U.S. Capitol February 5, 2015 in Washington, DC. Citing the 2012 mass shooting of children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, Democratic members of the House and Senate joined the Connecticut delegation to support and emphasize the need for the proposed law. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Andy Parker, father of WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker, speaks at a rally against gun violence, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Demonstrators march over the Brooklyn bridge during the third annual Brooklyn bridge march and rally to end gun violence Saturday, May 9, 2015, in New York. Organizers said the proliferation of guns results in an average of more than 80 deaths a day across the country. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
FILE - In this April 18, 2013 file photo, community gun safety advocates and members of the public hold signs during a rally and vigil to honor victims of gun violence, sponsored by Colorado Ceasefire, on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol, in Denver. When a gunman opened fire inside a packed movie theater in July of 2012, killing 12, it helped revive the national debate over gun control. But, as the trial of theater shooter James Holmes is scheduled to begin Monday, April 27, 2015, Colorado’s gun debate has quieted down. “It’s in a sort of gridlock,” said nonpartisan Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)
People calling for gun control demonstrate on a street a few blocks away from the site of the National Rifle Association convention Saturday, April 11, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, left, listens from the audience before speaking in support of Initiative 594, a measure seeking universal background checks on gun sales and transfers, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Seattle. Giffords, who was wounded three years ago in Tucson, spoke as part of a cross-country tour to promote gun control. She appeared at a panel discussion on reducing gun violence against women and organizers said the focus is on background checks for gun buyers. Gifford's nine-state tour started more than a week ago in Maine where she advocated tougher laws to protect women from stalkers and domestic violence. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Actress Amanda Peet, left, holds her daughter alongside fellow actor Adam Scott, center, and relatives of gun violence victims at a rally outside city hall to call for tougher gun control laws, Saturday, June 14, 2014, in New York. The protest was underwritten by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the most visible gun control advocates in the U.S., and included relatives of some of those slain in the 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Hundreds of demonstrators march across the Brooklyn Bridge to call for tougher gun control laws, Saturday, June 14, 2014, in New York. The protest was underwritten by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the most visible gun control advocates in the U.S., and included relatives of some of those slain in the 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Supporters of a new gun rights bill hold signs prior to a hearing on gun rights laws at the Statehouse in Boston, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Supporters and opponents of tighter gun control measures gathered at the Statehouse for a public hearing on a wide-ranging gun bill. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
MaryAnn McHugh, of Nashua, left, talks with state Rep. Hank Parkhurst, D-Winchester, as she lobbies for gun control at the entrance of Represetatives Hall at the Statehouse Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Concord, N.H. The House is considering legislation to expand New Hampshire's background checks for gun sales and transfers to include gun shows. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
In this Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 photo, gun-control advocates rally against gun violence in front of the state Capitol, in Denver. Gun-control supporters who gathered at the Colorado Capitol on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 asked the Democratic state Legislature Monday not to revisit last session's gun-control package, which included expanded background checks and a limit on ammunition magazines. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Petitions for Initiative 594 are counted at the Secretary of State's office Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in Olympia, Wash. Advocates seeking to expand the use of background checks on gun sales in Washington state turned in more than 250,000 signatures for the initiative, the first batch of petitions they plan to submit before a January deadline to qualify it to the Legislature. The plan would require background checks for online sales and private transactions of guns. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Carl Brooks of West Orange, N.J., who lost his nephew and brother-in-law in gun violence attends a rally on gun control Capitol Hill, in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter speaks during a demonstration Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. The event was held in support of legislation HR 1565 to expand background checks for gun sales. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Gun control efforts failed after mass shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 and a conference center in San Bernardino, California, in 2015. But some senators see resistance to gun restrictions softening as national security looms larger in the debate.

The Orlando gunman, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to the militant group Islamic State as he killed 49 people in a gay nightclub.

"This country is under attack ... it's not a plane or an explosive device, it's an assault weapon," said Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat who led a 15-hour filibuster last week to draw attention to the effort to restrict guns.


Murphy walked off the floor after the Senate votes and embraced Erica Smegielski, the daughter of Dawn Hochsprung, a Sandy Hook principal killed during the Newtown shooting.

"He said, the good thing about me and you is we're young, we'll be at this a long time," said Smegielski, 30.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted last week found that 71 percent of Americans favor at least moderate regulations and restrictions on gun sales. That compared with 60 percent in late 2013 and late 2014.

Senior Senate aides left open the possibility of other votes later in the week on unspecified gun control proposals. Some Republicans pinned hopes on a proposal by Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, which was not one of the four bills being considered on Monday.

Collins' plan would restrict gun purchases to a narrow group of suspects, including those on a "no-fly" list or a "selectee" list of people who require additional screening at airports.

But Democratic aides said people credibly suspected of involvement in terrorism would not be covered by the weapons ban under Collins' bill, and a Republican aide indicated it would not do enough to protect the constitutional rights of gun buyers.

Even if the Senate approved a gun compromise, it would also have to be passed by the more conservative, Republican-majority House of Representatives. House Republican leadership aides did not comment on the possibility that any bills proposing gun restrictions would be considered on the House floor this week.

On Monday, all four of the measures to expand background checks on gun buyers and curb gun sales to those on terrorism watch lists - two put forth by Democrats and two by Republicans - fell short of the 60 votes needed for passage in the 100-member chamber.

Gun-control advocates expressed disappointment after the vote and vowed to take revenge on lawmakers at the ballot box in November.

"Shame on every single senator who voted against these life-saving amendments and protected the rights of terrorists and other dangerous people to buy guns," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "The Brady Campaign will expose these politicians for who they really are and call out their failure to disarm hate in America."

(Additional reporting by Amanda Becker and Emily Stephenson; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Alistair Bell and Mary Milliken)

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