Hours after Senate Republicans defeated four gun measures, the White House hit back hard by accusing them of “cowardice” and being “scared” of the National Rifle Association.
The four measures, two Republican-crafted and two Democrat-written, would have tied gun purchases to various federal terrorism watchlists , increased funding, and closed the so-called “guns show loophole.” None received the requisite 60 votes needed to end debate.
The White House, after the June 12 Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, never got fully behind any of the measures. But President Barack Obama and his top aides signaled he would support just about any measure that reached his desk if such bills made it harder for terrorists and would-be mass murders to obtain firearms.
Earnest described Obama as "profoundly frustrated" that lawmakers have been unable — or unwilling — to pass a single gun measure after of any of the list of mass shootings during his presidency.
Asked Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program about the reaction at the White House as the four measures were voted down, Press Secretary Josh Earnest let the Obama team’s collective disgust show.
He called the votes a “shameful display of cowardice,” saying the four defeated bills were based on “common sense” and “should have drawn strong bipartisan support.”
“Republicans … have spent the last week saying, ‘radical Islamic extremism’ to anyone who would listen,” Earnest said. “But when it comes to actually preventing those extremists from being able to walk into a gun store and buy a gun, they’re AWOL.
“They won’t do anything about it because they’re scared of the NRA,” Obama’s top spokesman added. “That’s shameful.”
A new CNN/ORC poll conducted after the Orlando massacre, during which the American citizen shooter pledged allegiance to Islamic State leaders, shows 85 percent of those surveyed support individuals on terrorist watch lists being prohibited to purchase guns. Notably, more Republican respondents (90 percent) than Democratic (85 percent) answered yes to that question.
The Senate might try again to pass a gun-control measure in the coming days. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, hopes to unveil a bipartisan compromise on gun control Tuesday, saying there is “tremendous interest from both sides of the aisle."