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Tensions remain high after gun-control bill fails

WASHINGTON — One day after the demise of gun control legislation, Senate supporters of the measure vowed to try again, while a leading opponent accused President Obama of taking the ‘‘low road’’ when he harshly criticized lawmakers who voted against key provisions.

‘‘When good and honest people have honest differences of opinion about what policies the country should pursue about gun rights . . . the president of the United States should not accuse them of having no coherent arguments or of caving to the pressure,’’ said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas.

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The fate of the bill was sealed in a string of votes Wednesday, when Republicans backed by a small group of rural-­state Democrats rejected more extensive background checks for gun purchasers and torpedoed proposed bans on ­assault weapons and high-­capacity magazines.

The Senate delivered its verdict four months after a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., left 20 first-graders and six educators dead. The tragedy prompted Obama to champion an issue that Democrats had largely avoided for two decades and that he himself ignored during his first term in the White House.

Though the bill was moribund for the foreseeable future, the Senate approved two minor amendments Thursday. One by Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, cutting aid to state and local governments that release information on gun owners, was approved 67 to 30. Another by Senators Tom ­Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, and Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, bolstering federal mental health programs, passed 95 to 2.

Cornyn said he agreed with Obama that Wednesday had been a shameful day but added it was because of the president’s own comments.

‘‘He could have taken the high road . . . instead he chose to take the low road, and I agree with him it was a truly shameful day.’’

‘This is not the end of the fight. Republicans are in an unsustainable position.’

Harry Reid, Senate majority leader 
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Cornyn spoke shortly after Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said the struggle for tougher gun legislation is not over.

‘‘This is not the end of the fight; Republicans are in an unsustainable position,’’ he said, after voting with few exceptions against a tougher requirement for background checks for gun purchasers, a proposal that shows very high support in most public opinion polls.

‘‘I see this as just Round One,’’ the president said, flanked by relatives of Newtown’s victims and former representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011.

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