President Obama lost the gun battle in Congress by relying on speeches and not coalition-building, political scientist James Thurber of American University tells NPR. “I think he has not been effective [ ] in building a coalition, particularly a coalition that reaches over to the other side — gun owners and NRA members. [ ] There’s no contest in battling the NRA if you don’t have a similar organization on the other side, Thurber says. “The president doesn’t have that organization and therefore, he’s failed. You cannot simply deliver votes by giving speeches in this case.”
Expanding background checks had become a key part of Obama’s post-Newtown push for tougher federal gun control laws. In recent weeks, the president had campaigned for overall gun control legislation — especially the bipartisan background-check compromise — with a sense of urgency. Neither the president’s campaigning or plaintive personal appeals by family members of the Newtown victims, some of whom witnessed yesterday’s Senate vote in person, were able to push the Senate to cast the 60 votes needed to move the measure forward. The background-check amendment fell six votes short of a filibuster-proof majority in a 54-46 vote.