WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican-run House of Representatives on Thursday blocked a Democratic effort to consider bipartisan gun control legislation in the wake of repeated, highly publicized mass shootings in the United States.
Voting along party lines by 242 to 173, the House blocked the effort by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to bring to the floor a bill that would allow the government to ban suspected terrorists from legally purchasing guns.
"It is shocking to the American people that Congress refuses to keep guns out of the hands of those on the FBI's terrorist watch list," Pelosi said, arguing for consideration of the bill by Representative Peter King, a Republican, and co-sponsored by many Democrats.
Pelosi, a California Democrat, said it was a "disgrace" that Congress had not taken any action since the shooting deaths of 20 children in a Connecticut school three years ago. But her motion was ruled out of order and the House voted to table her appeal, blocking her effort.
Following recent mass shootings in California, where a married couple killed 14 people, and Colorado, where a man shot three people to death in a Planned Parenthood clinic, Democrats say public sentiment is turning in their favor on gun control.
The Democrats have been seeking to get Republican leaders, who control both houses of Congress, to take up legislation. But in the Senate, lawmakers last week rejected expanding background checks for gun purchases just a day after the California killings.
Republican leaders say they oppose King's bill because the government can mistakenly place innocent people on watch lists, and the effect would be to deny these innocent people their constitutional rights to purchase guns. The powerful National Rifle Association has also advanced that argument.
Democrats have not given up trying to bring up King's bill for a vote in the House. They are collecting signatures on a "discharge petition" to bring it to the floor but need 218 House members to succeed.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Tom Brown)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015. Click For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp