Not all Republican senators are willing to block a Senate vote on significant new gun restrictions. Conservatives have said they will use procedural tactics to try to keep the Senate from even considering the restrictions, including background checks for more gun buyers and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
But at least five GOP senators are expressing a willingness to let the gun debate proceed. Sixty votes will be needed to head off the stalling tactics. There are 53 Democrats and two independents who lean Democratic. But it's not clear whether any moderate Democrats from Republican-leaning states might support the conservative effort.
One Republican who wants to see the gun restrictions go to an up-or-down vote, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, says, "The American people ought to see where everybody stands on this."
Family members of the victims of the school shooting in Connecticut have been meeting privately with senators at the Capitol today. According to an administration official, they first had breakfast with Vice President Joe Biden at his residence at the Naval Observatory.
The Senate's top Democrat says there will be a showdown vote on Thursday on his party's effort to enact new gun restrictions.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he does not know if Democrats will get the 60 votes needed to break an effort by conservatives to block debate on the legislation.
At least five Republicans have indicated an openness to support the Democratic effort to at least begin debate. That would give Democrats the votes they would need -- assuming no moderate Democrats defect, which is possible.
A Senate vote to begin debating the legislation would be a temporary victory for President Barack Obama's gun-control drive. It remains unclear, though, whether there are enough votes for final approval of the legislation.