Senate Votes to Allow Gun Debate But fight could last weeks By Mark Russell, Newser Staff Posted Apr 11, 2013 7:59 AM CDT Updated Apr 11, 2013 11:02 AM CDT 222 comments Comments A rack of AR-15 rifles stand to be individually packaged as workers move a pallet of rifles for shipment at the Stag Arms company in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (Newser) – The Senate's gun control bill cleared its first major hurdle today, as the chamber voted 68-31 to begin debate, defeating at least the first attempt to filibuster the bill. Sixteen Republicans joined 52 Democrats in voting to begin debate, the Washington Post reports, while two Democrats voted against. But despite the encouraging vote—and a bipartisan compromise on background checks—don't expect smooth sailing; the Hill expects the debate to last weeks. Here's what you need to know: The NRA came out with a statement last night saying it is "unequivocally opposed" to the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, and specifically called out the "misguided 'compromise' proposal drafted by Senators Joe Manchin, Pat Toomey, and Chuck Schumer," reports the Huffington Post. The public is "far ahead" of politicians on gun control, said VP Joe Biden in a Morning Joe appearance today, per Politico. "You saw it in immigration, marriage issues, you’re seeing it now. The public has moved to a different place." Case in point: 91% of military veterans support background checks, according to a survey by one liberal group, reports Politico. Vets also support banning high-capacity ammunition magazines (61%), and 58% favor banning assault-style weapons. This marks the first time "in a generation" that a meaty gun measure has hit the floor, reports the Los Angeles Times. Senate officials say gun rights advocates plan to take a similar tack as last time: Stretch out the debate on amendments, particularly ones that would broaden gun owners' rights; hope Democrats running next year in conservative states back them; then hope so many of those amendments pass that gun control advocates sour on the bill.