Senate Republicans' rejection of four gun control measures on Monday was a "shameful display of cowardice," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest complained Tuesday morning.
"Cowards are people who talk really tough in the hope that they will not be asked to actually act and do something," Earnest told MSNBC's "Morning Joe"
program. "The truth is, that's exactly what Republicans have done."
On Monday, a divided Senate rejected
four measures to restrict gun sales, following last week's murders of 49 people in an Orlando nightclub. There are some senators still hoping for a compromise this week, through legislation aiming to keep people on the nation's terrorism watch lists from being able to purchase firearms, but that effort will likely face challenges from both parties.
The bills, said Earnest, were "common sense" measures that should have drawn strong bipartisan support while strengthening the nation's background checks, and while Republicans were busy saying the words "radical Islamic extremism" to all who would listen, they were "AWOL" when it came to enacting safeguards to keep those extremists from buying guns.
"They won't do anything about it because they're scared of the NRA [National Rifle Association]," said Earnest. "That's shameful."
And, he said, President Barack Obama has been blunt about changing the laws, and has made it clear that he will go to a "single-issue voter on this and he believes that other people who share his passion for trying to reduce gun violence and passing common sense gun safety legislation that would reduce gun violence without undermining the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans, they're going to have to be single-issue voters on this issue, too."
Obama is "profoundly frustrated," Earnest said, as "innocent lives are cut short because we haven't implemented common sense gun safety measures."
He said he does not know what kind of conversations Obama has had with House Speaker Paul Ryan or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about a compromise measure, but if events like the Orlando shootings or the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that left 20 children dead don't persuade them, he doesn't know what will.
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