WASHINGTON (AP) - Supporters of tougher gun laws have won a key vote in the Senate -- but according to Majority Leader Harry Reid, "The hard work starts now."
Conservatives were defeated today in an attempt to block the gun proposals from coming to the floor for debate and a vote. Supporters needed 60 votes, and they were able to get 68. It represented an early burst of momentum for the efforts by President Barack Obama to push fresh gun limits through Congress.
But many Republicans and some moderate Democrats still say the proposals go too far, and supporters may still face an uphill battle to get any major restrictions approved.
As Reid spoke after the vote, relatives of victims of the Connecticut elementary school shooting watched from the visitors' gallery above the Senate floor. They wiped away tears and held hands, and some seemed to pray.
The legislation would subject more firearms buyers to federal background checks. It would 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 are unconstitutional, and would be ignored by criminals.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, speaking before the vote, called the bill "a clear overreach" that he said would mostly punish "our neighbors, friends and family."