The vote was 68-31, but is just the first step.
But it ensures an open debate on gun control for the first time in nearly a decade, and four months after 26 children and adults were shot and killed by a gunman bearing a semi-automatic rifle at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“We’ve got the attention of the American people, and frankly, the world,” Majority Leader Harry Reid said after the vote, as families of Sandy Hook victims watched, hands over mouths, from a gallery…
Even with the 60 votes necessary to proceed on the gun bill, Senate rules require 30 hours of debate. That time is often routinely waived — but a single senator can insist on allowing the full time for arguments. Reid said Thursday morning that senators from both sides are “waiting in the wings” to offer amendments.
First up: A proposal from Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that would expand background checks to guns shows and Internet sales, but exclude many of the person-to-person transfers that President Obama wanted to be covered. That amendment will come up for debate Tuesday, Reid said. After that will come Democratic-sponsored amendments to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and then an alternating series of Republican and Democratic amendments on mental health, school safety, straw purchases and others.