Cornyn: Obama took the 'low road' in speech on gun control votes

After the Senate rejected gun control amendments that would have expanded background checks and banned assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips on Wednesday, Obama said it was a “shameful day for Washington.” The amendments failed to get enough GOP support to reach a 60-vote threshold.

National Rifle Association President David Keene told "Mornings on the Mall," a WMAL-FM radio show, that Obama's speech was an attack against the NRA.

"He's attacking the NRA, he's attacking our members, he's attacking citizens and senators of the United States, threatening them and all the rest," Keene said. "I think that's really not a seemly way for the president of the United States to respond to a legislative defeat. 

"[Obama complained] that we used the victims of these tragedies as props, and he did it while he was standing with all of these victims behind him, using them as props." 

Cornyn said instead of “chastising” senators, the president should have looked for areas of agreement between the two parties.

“I’m here to ask for [Obama’s] help,” Cornyn said. “I’m here to ask for every members’ help to make sure we actually pursue measures that would provide some solutions to this problem.”

Cornyn said he did not support the gun control measures supported by the president because they would not have prevented the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators. Cornyn said that instead he would prefer to pass incentives for states to report criminals and the mentally ill to the FBI so they are banned from buying guns through existing background checks.

“After 2008, we passed legislation trying to encourage states to send that information to the FBI,” Cornyn said. “[But] compliance with that law is dismal. ... I think there are further things we could do to incentivize that program.

“Why in the world wouldn’t we look to improve the current background check regime?”

The Senate is considering the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act, S.649, which would expand background checks on gun purchases, crack down on gun trafficking and beef up security in schools. 

Some GOP senators have said the bill goes too far and infringes on the rights of gun owners.

—Jonathan Easley contributed to this article.

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