Not even a Democratic-controlled Senate could pass a bipartisan background check bill.

Amendments to reinstate the assault-weapons ban and limit high-capacity magazines also failed.

Even a bipartisan proposal to curb gun trafficking — supported by the National Rifle Association, for goodness’ sake! — failed to pass.

Background checks make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to obtain weapons and deter people who in the heat of the moment want to buy a gun to hurt someone (e.g., kill their estranged wife or girlfriend).

Limits on the weapon power and ammunition capacity reduce the number of adults and children who get killed and maimed when the wrong people do get a hold of guns.

These measures would also make the jobs of our cities’ police officers and other public safety workers safer.

They would not lead the government to confiscate people’s guns and violate their rights.

People would still be able to obtain guns to hunt and to keep in their homes in order to protect their families.

In countries where it is harder to get weapons, gun violence is way lower. It really is a no-brainer.

It’s crazy, really, how much the paranoid thinking of the NRA and their supporters dictates U.S. gun policy.

Our right to safety is being hijacked by their lies, simplistic conceptualization of liberty and intentionally narrow interpretation of the Constitution.

Sensible policymaking is being blocked by their paranoid fantasies and fears, not to mention their fanciful and egotistical confidence in their ability to be civilian superheroes.

That the NRA and gun manufacturers put profits before the safety of children is depressing but unfortunately not surprising.

But when the majority of the public supports these proposals, the dangerously undemocratic role that money has come to play in our government is also exposed.

Lisa Morris

The public discussion of the U.S. Senate gun safety votes on April 17 has been focused on gun buyers’ background checks.

But even more revealing of the moral bankruptcy of the Republican Party is the vote on making a felony of gun purchases for criminals and others who cannot pass background checks (i.e., straw purchases).

Every Senate Democrat voted to make straw purchases a federal crime, and all Republicans but three voted for the filibuster that defeated this amendment.

The three responsible Republican senators who supported the amendment — the only ones who value people’s lives more than the money and votes of an extremist fringe — were Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mark Kirk of Illinois, and our own Susan Collins.

No moral justification exists for what the Republican Party did.

Making more guns available to felons can only lead to an arms race as more law-abiding people feel a need to arm themselves.

Of course, this vote enables increased gun sales and gun industry profits, but it also will result in more American deaths.

Do the Republican filibusterers really have such depraved indifference to whether their fellow Americans live or die? I hope we can dismiss the theory that these Republicans were appealing to the drug-dealer vote and the wife-beater vote.

This country needs a compassionate conservative party that lives in the real world. The Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Margaret Chase Smith was such a party; the present Republican Party is not.

It is time for Susan Collins and other decent and responsible Republicans to sever their ties to their party. How about two independent U.S. senators from Maine?

Meredith N. Springer

Some weeks ago, I watched the head of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, as he appeared on “Meet the Press” and talked about the mayor of New York spending his own money on ads for expanded background checks for gun purchases.

Mr. LaPierre said the mayor “could not buy America” with his money and ads.

That is probably true, but it would seem a waste of the mayor’s time and money anyway, as it is now clear that the United States Senate is owned and operated by the NRA.

Shame on the Senate for ignoring what 90 percent of Americans wanted and voting for what the big money lobby wanted instead.

The gun issue is not the big problem here; the problem is that our government no longer represents American citizens, but works for those who can put big money into their campaigns for election and re-election.

It is time for the American voter to clean house at the next election and then make Congress work for all Americans, not just those with lots of money.

Gary Phillips

How reducing the size of a gun magazine from 30 to 10 bullets, so killers will have to stop and reload more often during the killing process, is an infringement on the Second Amendment right to bear arms totally escapes me.

Ralph Rodway
Old Orchard Beach

It is appalling to see that both of our senators hid their votes against an assault weapons ban behind a vote in favor of the useful, but much less likely to be effective, increased background checks legislation.

The Press Herald colluded in this shell game by burying news of Susan Collins’ and Angus King’s votes for the gun lobby deep in the article (“Maine senators mourn defeat of gun compromise,” April 18).

The legislative process appears to have been carefully crafted to shield the pro-gun lobby votes cast despite the clearly stated directions of their constituents.

From 1994 to 2003, the last full year we had an assault weapons ban, there were still 16 mass shootings in the U.S.

Since the ban expired in 2004, there have been 27 mass shootings.

What further evidence is needed that these weapons of mass destruction are a cancer in our country?

And what rationale is there for owning such a weapon, beyond “I want it”?

Patricia Garrett