The first national gun control legislation since the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., is going to be debated on the floor of the Senate and appears headed for a vote sometime next week.
Supporters in the Senate on Thursday morning rounded up more than the 60 votes necessary to clear a procedural hurdle that could have held up consideration of the Democratic-crafted package. The vote was 68-31 in favor of blocking a bid by some Republicans to filibuster the legislation.
A total of 16 Republicans, including Illinois' junior Senator Mark Kirk, voted with the Democratic majority to allow debate to proceed. Shortly after the vote, the National Association for Gun Rights posted a list of the 16 on their Facebook page urging people to call to "let them know what you think."
Now the package, which includes measures intended to curb gun trafficking, improve security at schools and expand background checks of gun buyers, heads to a vote.
Two senators — Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — have put together an amendment that would expand background checks to gun shows and Internet purchases, but allow for the so-called "friends and neighbors" exception that exempts many private transactions and transfers from such background checks. Their amendment appears to be picking up bipartisan support.
Other amendments, including ones to renew the ban on assault-style weapons and to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, are due to be offered. But they are not expected to win the Senate's OK. It is possible that opponents might try to filibuster one or more of those measures.