Gun control efforts fizzle out in Congress, Democrat sit-in ends

WASHINGTON Supporters of U.S. gun control suffered another setback on Thursday when they failed to win enough backing in the Senate for a plan to ban firearms sales to people being monitored for links to terrorism in the wake of the Orlando massacre.A few hours after Democrats in the House concluded a daylong sit-in in their chamber over guns, Senate Republican leaders ended a protracted debate over gun control, at least for the time being. It became clear that Senate proponents of gun restrictions did not have the 60 votes needed to advance a bill, according to lawmakers and aides.That ended hopes that a compromise effort spearheaded by Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, could progress soon. Her plan forbids gun sales to anyone on the U.S. government's "No Fly List" of terrorism suspects or the "Selectee List" of people who receive extra screening at airports.Collins' plan did clear one procedural hurdle in voting on Thursday by collecting a slim majority of the Senate - 52 votes - against an attempt to outright kill it. Senator John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, told reporters he did not expect any more votes on gun control in the Senate in the near future. "(Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) says we’re done with that, for now,” Cornyn said.That decision marked a major victory for the National Rifle Association in its campaign to fend off new restrictions on gun purchases. The Senate now will begin debating bills to combat the spreading Zika virus and helping Puerto Rico navigate a debt crisis, before starting a short July 4 recess next week.Earlier on Thursday, Democratic lawmakers ended a daylong sit-in occupation of the floor of the House to protest the lack of action on gun control after the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, this month that killed 40 people.Democratic members had taken control of the House chamber on Wednesday and dozens of them stayed all night, at times bursting into the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome." Fueled by Chinese food and pizzas, the Democrats took turns occupying the chamber after raucous scenes that nearly erupted into a fistfight with the majority Republicans.After the House television cameras were turned off, the Democrats switched to social media to stream their protest via Facebook Live and Periscope.Dramatic protests by legislators are rare in the U.S. Capitol and the sit-in underscored how sensitive the gun control issue has become after a gunman pledging allegiance to Islamic State shot dead 49 people in Orlando. (Additional reporting by Richard Cowan, Timothy Ahmann, Timothy Gardner and Eric Walsh, Doina Chiacu; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Bill Trott)