WASHINGTON - The US Senate cleared the way on Thursday for an emotional, weeks-long debate on proposals to curb gun violence, rejecting an effort by conservative Republicans to block consideration of gun-control legislation prompted by December's Connecticut elementary school massacre.
The Senate voted 68-31 to open debate on US President Barack Obama's proposals to expand background checks for gun buyers, tighten restrictions on gun trafficking and increase funding for school security.
The Senate easily cleared the 60-vote hurdle needed to break a Republican filibuster on a bill that has sparked intense lobbying on both sides, including families of the Connecticut victims as well as the powerful gun lobby the National Rifle Association.
The legislation still faces many hurdles, including a weeks-long debate in the Senate featuring many amendments that could make the bill unacceptable to senators who now support it. And if it clears the Senate, it would face a tough reception in the Republican-led House of Representatives.