A divided Senate blocked rival election-year plans to curb guns on Monday, eight days after the horror of Orlando's mass shooting intensified pressure on lawmakers to act but knotted them in gridlock anyway—even over restricting firearms for terrorists, the AP reports. In largely party-line votes, rejected were one proposal from each side to keep extremists from acquiring guns and another shoring up the government's existing system of required background checks for many firearms purchases. With the chamber's visitors' galleries unusually crowded for a Monday evening—including people wearing orange T-shirts saying "#ENOUGH gun violence"—each measure fell short of the 60 votes needed to progress. Democrats called the GOP proposals unacceptably weak while Republicans said the Democratic plans were overly restrictive.
The stalemate underscored the pressure on each party to give little ground on the emotional gun issue going into November's presidential and congressional elections. It also highlighted the potency of the National Rifle Association, which urged its huge and fiercely loyal membership to lobby senators to oppose the Democratic bills. "Republicans say, 'Hey look, we tried,'" said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "And all the time, their cheerleaders, the bosses at the NRA, are cheering them." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Orlando shootings—in which the FBI says the American-born gunman swore allegiance to a leader of the Islamic State group—show the best way to prevent attacks by extremists is to defeat such groups overseas. Click for more on the story. (Read more Pulse Orlando shooting stories.)