The U.S. Senate begins debate Thursday on one of the most controversial and emotional bills it is likely to take up this year -- gun control.
The Democratic-led Senate is likely to defeat efforts by some conservative Republicans to block the bill from consideration.
A compromise between two pro-gun senators, one Democrat and one Republican, on expanding background checks for gun buyers opened the door for the debate to begin. Their compromise would require checks at gun shows and on the Internet, but would exclude sales between friends and family members.
The gun control bill also would ban military-style assault weapons and limit the number of bullets a magazine can carry. This has a much slimmer chance of getting passed.
The December massacre of 26 children and teachers at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school put gun control in the national spotlight.
Several states, including Connecticut, Colorado and Maryland, have enacted their own gun control laws. President Barack Obama has demanded federal action. But the powerful gun owners group, the National Rifle Association, opposes any new measures as an infringement on the constitutional right to own weapons.
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Thursday's Senate debate will be the first of what is expected to be multiple debates on gun control, which also must pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.