A polarized Senate voted Thursday against expanding background checks for more gun purchases, rejecting the proposal a day after the latest US mass shooting left 14 people dead in California. Thursday's mostly party-line 50-48 vote, which followed the Senate's defeat of other firearms curbs, underscored that political gridlock over the issue remains formidable in Washington, even amid a rash of highly publicized US shootings and last month's terror attack in Paris. The background check measure, co-authored by senators from both parties, was the same proposal the Senate rejected in early 2013, just months after 20 children and six educators were shot to death at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
The plan was strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association, which on Thursday emailed its members urging them to contact senators and "tell them to vote against any gun control amendments." The proposal would require background checks for all gun purchases online and at gun shows. Currently, the checks are only required for transactions from licensed gun dealers. Thursday's vote was symbolic because the proposal was offered as an amendment to a bill obliterating ObamaCare, which he will veto. Nonetheless, its political significance was unmistakable. The vote came a day after a shooting in San Bernardino, California, killed 14 people and wounded 21 others. Earlier Thursday, the Senate in mostly party-line votes rejected rival proposals that could make it harder for people the government suspects of being terrorists from purchasing firearms. (Read more gun control stories.)