Background checks for gun purchasers and measures curbing the sale of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and gun trafficking failed today despite an urgent, last-minute push on what Politico calls the biggest gun-control vote in Congress in the last 20 years.
The Senate defeated a series of gun measures this afternoon that were drafted in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and backed by large majorities of Americans.
Ironically, though, news stories about the horrific bombing at the Boston Marathon -- including reports today that a suspect has been taken into custody -- have pushed the gun issue into the background.
We are living in a political and media environment that focuses endlessly on violence and terror, to the detriment of actual efforts to curb violence and restore peace.
Even before Boston, reporters and public officials were talking about how anti-gun-violence measures had "lost momentum" in recent months.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns sent a letter to all members of the U.S. Senate this morning to remind them that a bipartisan coalition of more than 950 mayors and 1.5 million supporters are watching their gun votes.
"Since Newtown, as more than 4,000 American have been murdered with guns, the people have called on Congress, in massive numbers and with one voice, to reform our broken gun laws," Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, wrote in the letter.
Glaze's group supports the Manchin-Toomey amendment, expanding background checks to gun sales online gun and at gun shows, which the Senate rejected today.
The mayors also support the Feinstein Amendment on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines -- the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act -- which calls for a national, instant criminal background check for gun purchases, and the Leahy-Collins Amendment, which establishes a federal gun-trafficking crime.
On the flip side, the mayors oppose the Grassley and Cornyn amendments that mandate national reciprocity for state concealed-carry permits.
In his letter, Glaze informed all the Senators that his group will maintain a scorecard of their votes on all of these measures.
In response to an NRA ad claiming that law enforcement officials overwhelmingly oppose gun restrictions, including background checks, Chief Jim Johnson of Baltimore County, chair of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, released the following statement:
"Only law enforcement speaks for law enforcement. We hope that members of Congress will listen directly to law enforcement and not those who purport to represent us but do not. Today, we urge Senators to back law enforcement and the overwhelming majority of Americans who support background checks by voting for the Manchin-Toomey amendment. Lives depend on it."
Unfortunately, the Senate failed to step up.
MoveOn executive director Anna Galland said: "Americans deserve better than the cowardice now on display in the U.S. Senate."
If you liked this article by Ruth Conniff, the political editor of The Progressive, check out her story "Progressives Say They'll Primary Dems Who Vote for Chained CPI."
Follow Ruth Conniff @rconniff on Twitter.