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TODAY   |  April 12, 2013

David Gregory: NRA is ‘facing new difficulties’

After more Republicans than expected agreed to debate a proposal on new Federal background checks for gun purchases, the Senate is preparing for heated discussion. NBC’s David Gregory discusses the road ahead, as well as the NRA’s role.

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>>> big story in washington this morning the senate agreeing to move forward with the first major gun control legislation in decades, this after more republicans then expected to agree to debate a proposal on new federal background checks for gun purchases. david gregory is moderator of "meet the press" good morning to you.

>> good morning, matt.

>> the vote was 68-31 to move forward and debate this, a stronger show of support than a lot of people expected but it would be presumptuous for supporters of the legislation to think they've got it made.

>> absolutely because the feeling among republicans was, don't stop the debate. that would be political suicide for republicans to not let the debate go forward so you have a lot of people voting to let the debate happen who are not expected to be there in the end. democrats behind this bill are literally going down the list, you think i can keep that person along? a lot of this has to do with the gun lobby .

>> there seem to be two schools of thought on the nra . some people think that lobbying group has been weakened in the wake of the newtown tragedy, yet you had two democratic senators who voted against debating the bill who the nra said we're keeping a scorecard how you vote. in your opinion is the nra weaker or still as strong.

>> still as strong without a doubt and facing new difficulties. i spoke to a democratic senator who said the nra is being tea partied in this whole fight meaning they're facing a tax from their right, from other elements of the gun lobby putting pressure on them to what's called score the bill, in other words give a letter grade to watch how lawmakers vote on this. i spoke to a democratic aide who has a boss up for re-election, the more gun votes the better, the more we can vote against the measures, they will be safe for a re-election fight. reporters are looking for cover from the nra . will they agree to look the other way, not come out for the background check bill but not penalize senators who vote for it. that they feel is their only chance.

>> at least there's debate. when you look at the bigger picture and the fact that lawmakers are taking on gun control , taking on immigration and debating deficit reduction and the budget, does it send the message that perhaps congress has heard the criticism, and they're actually getting down to business?

>> i think it's an important point, matt. there's a feeling in washington among democrats and republicans that the public is tuning them out because they don't think they can do anything big so on all thosie issues you mentioned there's the prospect of doing something big. on gun control it's not complete, certainly not those who want to see greater regulation but a background check bill that could ultimately perhaps get through the house that would still be seen as an accomplishment.

>> what do you have sunday?

>> we'll talk about immigration in addition to the other things. marco rubio spear-heading the republican expert and senators gi gillibrand an lee.