The Senate voted 54-46 in favor of the bipartisan amendment from Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to broaden background checks to all online and gun-show sales. However, the amendment required 60 votes for approval.
Speaking at the White House -- flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and several parents of children who were killed in the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. -- Obama said senators who voted no "caved" to pressure from the National Rifle Association and said the NRA lied about what the legislation would do.
Obama said the NRA "willfully lied" about the compromise amendment.
"Those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners and that in turn intimated a lot of senators," he said.
"All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington, but this effort is not over," the president said. "We can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence so long as the American people don't give up on it.
"I see this as just round 1."
After the Senate killed the Manchin-Toomey compromise, the NRA issued a statement repeating its position the amendment "would have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors and some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution."
Manchin accused the NRA of spreading "so much misinformation about the firearms background check legislation" and said the organization's contention the bill would criminalize private transfer of firearms "is a lie."
Five Democrats -- Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Max Baucus of Montana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mark Begich of Alaska and Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada -- voted against it. Reid's no vote preserved his ability to bring the measure up again, The Hill reported.
Reid -- who has long enjoyed a mutually supportive relationship with the National Rifle Association -- broke with the NRA Wednesday and said he would vote for an assault weapons ban proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., "because we must strike a better balance between the right to defend ourselves and the right of every child in America to grow up safe from gun violence."
"I chose to vote my conscience, not only as Harry Reid, United States senator, but also as a husband, a father, a grandfather and a friend," Reid said.
Democratic leaders will turn to reworking gun-safety legislation in hopes they can pass some version of it in the Senate, The Hill said.
"I think [Reid] is trying to figure that out right now," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. "It's hugely disappointing that something that 90 percent of the public wants won't get 60 votes. The country is in a different place."
White House spokesman Jay Carney said at Wednesday's daily briefing with reporters, prior to the vote, the administration believes "there is a path, a very difficult path to get to 60 votes."
"We're gonna get this eventually," Biden said during a discussion with several U.S. mayors before the vote. "If we don't get it today we'll get it eventually because the American people are way ahead of their officials."
Reid had said Tuesday he believed there was "significant momentum" in favor of the background check amendment.
"Now, am I saying it's all over with, done, we got the votes? No, but we certainly feel we have the wind at our back," he said.