WASHINGTON -- Any new gun control legislation appears to be dead.
A Senate bill calling for tougher background checks fell six votes short of the 60 needed for passage Wednesday.
A defiant President Obama vowed to continue his push for tougher gun control after the vote.
"Most of these senators could not offer any good reason to why we wouldn't want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun," Mr. Obama noted. "It came down to politics, the worrty that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections."
It was a defeat for lifetime NRA member and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.
Partnered with Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey, also a hunter, Manchin got the help of shooting survivor Gabby Giffords.
They brought in the loved ones of schoolkids and teachers shot to death in Newtown, Connecticut.
Mothers gathered at the Capitol to read the names of gun violence victims as the vote was held.
Backers of the Manchin-Toomey plan pleaded for support on the Senate floor.
"We can save lives," said Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal. "We can make a start."
The plan would have required background checks for all sales at gun shows and over the internet, but no federal record keeping of sales.
Most Senate Republicans voted against the bill.
In the new Quinnipiac poll 88% of Americans support background checks.
Other proposals to reduce gun violence are still pending, but the Manchin-Toomey background check was the only major one that looked possible to pass.
--Steve Handelsman, NBC News, reports