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April 18, 2013

Gun Control Bill Fails in the Senate

Watch Senate Rejects Amendments for Background Checks on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

While the nation was still reeling from the bombing at the Boston Marathon, lawmakers in the Senate held a vote Wednesday on whether to pass new gun control legislation that would have expanded background checks and banned high capacity ammunition magazines and assault weapons. The bill also included a Republican-sponsored measure that required states to honor concealed firearm permits from other states.

However, despite drawing more than 50 percent of the votes in the Senate, the bill did not gain the 60 votes needed to pass.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – S.C.), who opposed the bill, said that its provisions are “not the solution to the problem we all face.”

In a statement after the vote, President Obama conceded that no single piece of legislation could stop violence, “but if action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand, if it could have prevented those people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future, while preserving our Second Amendment rights, we had an obligation to try.”

This was just the first day of voting, but after a string of defeats for gun control advocates, the fate of the overall bill remains unclear.


“I understand that some of our colleagues believe that supporting this piece of legislation is risky politics. I think there’s a time in our life that’s a defining time in public service, a time when you have the ability to stand when you know the facts are on your side and walk into the lion’s den, and look that lion in the eye, and tell that lion, listen, not today, not today,” – Senator Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.).

“The president wanted three things done. He wanted to ban assault weapons. He wanted to limit magazine size — sizes. And he wanted to impose a universal background check. Well, all three of those concepts are going to be on the floor of the United States Senate for a vote, and they’re all going to lose. Why? Because they’re not the solution to the problem we all face,” – Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Warm up questions

1. What is the Second Amendment?

2. What do you know about guns in the United States? Can anyone buy a gun?

3. What is an “assault rifle”? How is an assault rifle different from other types of guns?

Discussion questions

1. Do you think that the Senate did the right thing? Why or why not?

2. Do you think stricter gun laws would help prevent more gun deaths?

3. Why are gun laws so controversial in the United States?

4. What do you think can be done to prevent more shootings?

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