Sandy Hook families fail to win votes, but say they won’t quit

Washington — Democratic leaders, and the White House, rallied around dozens of family members and friends of the victims of the Newtown tragedy Thursday.

Some Newtown families met privately with President Obama and Vice President Biden.

“As we approach the six-month anniversary of that terrible day, we will never forget and we will continue to fight alongside them,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

The Newtown families and their allies have become a lobbying force on Capitol Hill, calling for tougher gun laws. But despite their efforts this week to mark the six-month anniversary, not one vote was turned.

But the Newtown families vowed not to quit.

“Inaction is unacceptable,” said Jillian Soto, younger sister of Newtown victim Vicki Soto, who was a teacher in the school. “We will not forget what happened to us.”

Friday is the six-month anniversary of the massacre that killed 20 first-graders and six educators.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday he’d bring a bill back a bill that failed in the Senate in April if supporters could find the 60 votes needed for approval. The bill would expand FBI background checks of prospective gun buyers.

Supporters are just four votes shy. But those have proved tough to get because the issue of gun control continues to be radioactive on Capitol Hill.

A frustrated New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns, asked deep-pocketed Democratic donors this week to refrain from donating to four Senate Democrats who voted against the background check legislation — Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

Baucus has announced his retirement. But Pryor and Begich face tough re-election races next year.

The Bloomberg initiative threatens the Democrats’ hold of the Senate.

Calling Bloomberg “a free spirit and a rich one,” Reid said he contacted Bloomberg to warn him “if we have Republican control of the Senate we will never get anything done.”

Some lawmakers declined to meet with the Newtown families. Others offered up their staff instead.

That enraged Connecticut Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats.

“Have the guts to take a meeting,” he said. “Have the courage to look these families in the eye and then tell them ‘no.’”

Blumenthal said, “Some (lawmakers) have closed their doors or turned their backs…how could they refuse?”

Obama and Biden plan to hold a gun control summit at the White House next week to help keep up the pressure on Congress.

“I can guarantee we will have another vote, and that we will win,” Blumenthal said.