Senate Democrats have failed in their bid to pass new gun control measures.
They were trying to create tighter background checks, ban assault weapons and ban large-capacity ammunition magazines.
President Obama blamed Republicans as he surrounded himself with families of the Newtown, Conn., massacre victims.
"So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington," Obama said. "A few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn't worth it. They blocked common sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery."
Mark Barden, the father of one Newtown victim, joined the President in speaking out.
"Expanded background checks wouldn't have saved our loved ones, but still we came to support a bipartisan proposal from two senators, both with A ratings from the NRA," Barden said.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley explained why he joined others in opposing the move.
"This is a slippery slope of compromising the Second Amendment, and you go down that road, you're going to find it easier to compromise other things in the Bill of Rights," the Iowa lawmaker said.
The President said his administration will take steps on its own without Congress.