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Senate Overcomes GOP Filibuster, Gun Debate to Begin

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A full gun debate will begin next week in the Senate.

On a vote of 68-31, Democrats and a smaller coalition of Republicans joined forces to defeat a GOP filibuster threat. The voting began at 11:01 a.m. Eastern time and lasted for about 30 minutes.

Families of gun violence -- from Sandy Hook to Aurora to Virginia Tech -- watched quietly from their seats in the Senate gallery.

The vote is a procedural one, clearing the way for a full gun debate next week. But it is a monumental one, marking the start of the most significant Senate debate on guns in at least a decade, and the defeat for the National Rifle Association and other groups opposed to the bill.

While the Senate cleared a procedural hurdle paving the way for gun debate, two conservatives in the House of Representatives, Georgia Rep. Paul Broun and Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, have been working over the past week to collect signatures on a letter to House Speaker John Boehner discouraging him from taking up any new gun measures without support from a majority of the House Republican conference.

“We are writing to express our strong opposition to legislation requiring private sale background checks for firearms purchases,” the letter reads. “Under the precedents and traditions of the House, we would ask that no gun legislation be brought to the floor of the House unless it has the support of a majority of our caucus.”

So far, more than 45 Republicans have signed on to the letter to the speaker.

On Wednesday, Boehner reiterated that he will wait for the Senate to pass a gun measure before the House reviews it or potentially acts on it. In the meantime, he says House committees will continue reviewing the issue as well.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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