US Senate debates gun control after California shooting, but no action taken

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
San Bernardino Shooting Sparks More Conversation About Gun Control

WASHINGTON, Dec 3 (Reuters) - One day after a mass shooting in California that killed 14 people and wounded 21, Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate jousted on Thursday over gun control but again failed to advance legislation addressing the violence.

Democrats tried to expand background checks to those purchasing weapons at gun shows and through intrastate Internet transactions. They also proposed closing a loophole allowing people on "terror watch lists" to buy guns and explosives.

SEE ALSO: How a lucky bathroom trip spared a San Bernardino survivor

Both efforts failed in the face of heavy Republican opposition.

Republicans said the government could mistakenly place innocent people on watch lists, denying them their constitutional rights to purchase guns. The influential National Rifle Association has also advanced that argument.

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn failed to win an alternative putting gun sales on hold for 72 hours for people on watch lists. Critics have said such background checks could take longer to complete.

See gun control activists:

6 PHOTOS
2016 groups shaping the election: Gun control activists
See Gallery
US Senate debates gun control after California shooting, but no action taken
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)
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)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The FBI is trying to determine whether a couple suspected of the shootings at a workplace in Southern California on Wednesday had links to Islamic militant groups.

In a news conference before the votes, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said: "Congressis complicit in these mass murders when it fails to act."

Blumenthal's home state of Connecticut was the scene of a mass shooting three years ago when a 20-year-old gunman entered an elementary school and killed 20 children and six employees.

After that tragedy, gun control legislation appeared to gain traction, only to fail in 2013 following an emotional Senate debate.

SEE ALSO:Chicago to release video in police shooting of second black man

With the latest mass shootings in Paris, as well as in Colorado and California fresh in the public's mind, Democrats argued sentiment was again turning in their favor on gun control.

"I think we are ... reaching a tipping point," New York Senator Charles Schumer said, adding that mass shootings "week after week" were "arousing the American conscience."

But given Thursday's Senate votes and recent public opinion polls, it is not apparent the United States has reached a "tipping point" in favor of stricter gun laws.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll last month found 82 percent thought gun violence was a very serious or somewhat serious problem. But opinion split almost evenly over whether enacting new laws to reduce gun violence or protecting the right to own guns was more important.

The poll also found that 63 percent blamed mass shootings on mental health problems, while 23 percent cited inadequate gun control.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney)

More news on AOL:
San Bernardino, California, massacre suspects could have terror links
US defense chief says military will open combat jobs to women
13-year-old girl posts shooting threat against Dallas school

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners

This Elephant Was Separated From Her Mother As A Baby - But She's About To Get A Huge This Elephant Was Separated From Her Mother As A Baby - But She's About To Get A Huge
19 of the Creepiest, Most Inexplicable Things People Ever Experienced 19 of the Creepiest, Most Inexplicable Things People Ever Experienced
Man Built This Contraption In His Backyard - And Even He Was Surprised How Well It Worked Man Built This Contraption In His Backyard - And Even He Was Surprised How Well It Worked