Gun control bill clears first hurdle in Senate

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Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Gun control supporters have won the first Senate showdown over restricting firearms, rejecting an effort by conservatives to derail a package of gun curbs before debate could even begin.
   
The 68-31 vote gave an initial burst of momentum to efforts by President Barack Obama and lawmakers, mostly Democrats, to impose gun restrictions following the December carnage at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
   
Gun control supporters needed 60 votes to block the conservatives.
   
The legislation would subject more firearms buyers to federal background checks, strengthen laws against illicit gun trafficking and increase school safety aid. Advocates say the measures would make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to get weapons.
   
Opponents say the restrictions would violate the Constitution's right to bear arms and would be ignored by criminals.

Earlier story:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate is ready to begin debating new restrictions on guns, four months after the carnage at a Connecticut elementary school spurred lawmakers to address firearms violence.
   
Senators were to vote Thursday to reject an attempt by conservatives to block debate. There was little doubt that vote would succeed and senators would begin considering the legislation.
   
Congress' first roll call on the measure comes a day after two leading conservative senators - Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania - unveiled a compromise to extend federal background checks for firearms sales to gun shows and online transactions. Only noncommercial, personal transactions would be exempted.
   
The National Rifle Association, along with many Republicans and some moderate Democrats, opposes fresh gun curbs.

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