People gathered on Capitol Hill Thursday to honor victims of recent gun violence. There religious leaders, including some from Newtown, Conn., began a 24-prayer vigil.
The news came as the Senate voted to begin debate on gun control. It was the first win for gun control supporters in what's likely to be a long fight.
Democratic lawmakers needed 60 votes to block an effort by some Republicans to push back debate. But on Thursday Senators voted 68-31 in favor of moving forward.
That decision comes on the heels of a big push by the president, including using the parents of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, to help make his case for stricter gun regulations.
"The hard work starts now," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said after the procedural vote to open debate.
Meanwhile, many Republicans believe the bill is an overreach.
"[It] will predominantly punish and harass our neighbors, friends and family," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who fought to block debate on the bill.
Experts say the legislation still faces many obstacles, starting with a weeks-long debate in the Senate featuring amendments that could make the bill unappealing to senators who currently support it.
If the measure clears the Senate, it will face tough opposition in the Republican-led House of Representatives. The last major gun legislation passed by Congress was in 1994.