WASHINGTON — The Senate failed to muster sufficient support Wednesday for a gun-buyer background check bill that’s supported by nearly 90 percent of Americans, voting the measure down in a procedural vote that likely dooms any major legislation to curb gun violence.

The measure — painstakingly crafted by the bipartisan duo of Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) — was seen as the key to passing the first legislation in decades to address the sorts of mass slaughters that so recently horrified the country in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six educators were gunned down at an elementary school, and in Auroro, Colo., where 12 people were killed in a theater.

The amendment failed 54 to 46, falling short of the 60-vote threshold needed to break a filibuster of the measure, even as victims of the Sandy Hook shootings and other shooting watched from the Senate gallery and activists at a vigil outside the Capitol read the names of people slain since then, hoping to prompt action.

“Shame on you!” shouted two women in the gallery after the vote. One was Patricia Maisch, who grabbed the third clip from the gunman who opened fired at then-Rep. Gabby Giffords in the Tuscon., Ariz., shooting in 2011. The other was Lori Hass, whose daughter was injured in the Virginia Tech shootings six years ago.

Passage of the background check amendment had been seen as key because it represented a bipartisan agreement in a highly polarized debate. It also would have preserved a major part of the overall bill that many advocates against gun violence saw as a minimum step toward stemming gun massacres.

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