The U.S. Senate on Thursday agreed to start debate on gun control legislation.
It was considered the first hurdle in the most serious gun control effort in years.
U.S. senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, both Tennessee Republicans, were among the senators who voted 68-31 to turn back a filibuster and move on to the bill.
“I’m always ready to defend and debate the Second Amendment constitutional rights of Tennesseans,” Alexander said in a press release. “In fact, I look forward to sponsoring and voting for amendments that strengthen those rights. To be unwilling to defend and debate Second Amendment rights on the Senate floor would be like joining the Grand Ole Opry and being unwilling to sing.”
Corker also released a statement.
“I don’t understand why any senator wouldn’t want to debate these issues, but in the end, I will not support any legislation that violates our Second Amendment rights,” Corker said.
In another press release, Alexander said he would oppose an amendment to expand background checks that has been proposed by senators Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, and Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the Toomey-Manchin amendment will be the first to come up when the Senate begins deliberation of the gun legislation next week, Alexander said.
“I’ll examine each amendment to determine whether it strengthens or infringes upon our Second Amendment rights,” Alexander said. “The Toomey-Manchin proposal to expand background checks, in my opinion, doesn’t meet that test, and I will vote against it.”
The senator said he has an “A rating” from the National Rifle Association.
The Associated Press said families of victims of the December elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., watched Thursday’s vote to start debate on the bill, S. 649. Still, the AP reported that few supporters of the legislation are confident of victory.