WASHINGTON, DC -- The Senate has begun formal debate on new gun control legislation.
A handful of Republicans joined most Democrats in voting 68 to 31 to begin consideration of a gun law.
In doing so, they defeated an attempt by Senate opponents of new gun laws to prevent debate.
The Senate will now begin to consider a package that would expand background checks for gun sales. It would also strengthen school safety and mental health programs.
The new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll shows 55 percent of Americans favor tougher laws covering the sale of firearms. That is down six percent from February.