The US Senate has rejected a proposal to expand background checks for gun purchases online and at gun shows, amid further calls to tighten gun control laws.
The Senators voted 50 to 48 on Thursday against the amendment to a health-care bill proposed by the Democrats. The proposal was aimed at flagging people who have criminal records or mental-health histories that disqualify them from owning guns. Under the current regulations, the checks are only required for transactions from federally-licensed dealers.
The rejection came a day after 14 people were killed and over a dozen others injured in a mass shooting in California. A couple armed with rifles and handguns attacked a center for people with developmental disabilities in San Bernardino, killing at least 14 people and wounding 17, the deadliest mass shooting in the United States in three years.
US President Barack Obama and some other Democrats said the fatal shooting of December 2 highlights the need to toughen the gun-control laws and expand background checks.
A similar proposal was also rejected at the Senate in 2013. The proposal was introduced following a shooting attack at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six educators were killed.
On Thursday, the Senators also blocked another amendment that would have authorized the US Justice Department to prevent a suspected or known “terrorist” from buying explosives or firearms. The proposal was rejected in a 54-45 vote.
Meanwhile, a survey carried out by New York Daily News and Rasmussen Reports on December 1 showed that 80 percent of Americans believe that there should be stricter gun control laws. Some 33 percent of respondents also believe that background checks are the most effective way to prevent mass shootings.
There have been more than 350 mass shootings this year in the United States, where four or more people were wounded or killed, according to the crowd-sourced website shootingtracker.com, which keeps a running tally of gun violence in the States.