HELENA – Speakers at a rally at the Montana Capitol Tuesday urged Sen. Max Baucus to change his stance and support expanded background checks before people can buy guns.

The Democratic senator voted against mandatory background checks earlier this year. A statement from his spokeswoman indicated Baucus favors other approaches to curb gun deaths.

Several speakers, including a longtime Baucus supporter, addressed a crowd of 35-40 people to urge the veteran senator to change his mind on the issue before he retires in 2014.

“Take Another Look, Senator Max Baucus!!” read the sign at the rally.

They spoke at the event sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group funded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It was part of the 25-state “No More Names” tour. A similar event is set for Missoula on Thursday.

Before and after the event, participants read the toll of some of the names of the more than 7,000 Americans killed by guns since 20 students and six teachers and adult staff were murdered in December 2012 at a school in Newtown, Conn.

Vern Tolstedt, a retired Helena physician, with his wife, Leona, standing beside him, told how their 31-year-old son was shot and killed in Seattle 25 years ago by a couple of teenagers with criminal records.

“It is not possible to describe the emotional devastation of this event,” Tolstedt said. “Perhaps, with universal background checks, they may not have been able to obtain the rife used.”

Tolstedt, a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association who is ready to quit the group, called for background checks before people can buy guns or ammunition and said it wouldn’t be an infringement of Second Amendment rights.

“Senator Baucus, I have supported you throughout your Washington legislative career,” Tolstedt said. “I think you are wrong not supporting comprehensive background check legislation. Now is the time to support me and the rest of citizens of the United States of America by voting for such legislation.”

State Rep. Amanda Curtis, D-Butte, told how at age 17, in May 1997, she and her family were awakened by a call from police telling them to come to a Billings hospital. They learned her 16-year-old brother had shot and killed himself playing Russian roulette at a party.

She also told of a 10-year-old boy in Butte who was killed by another student in 1994, and how a close family friend was killed after being shot in the face.

“These are not extraordinary circumstances,” Curtis said. “I would be willing to bet that every single one of you that’s here today either has been directly affected or knows someone who has been directly affected by gun violence.”

Curtis, who is considering a race for the U.S. House, called for common-sense solutions.

“If Montana has 2.5 times the suicide rate of states with comprehensive background checks, maybe we should try that out,” said Curtis, a high school math teacher.

*****

In response, a statement from Baucus spokesman Jennifer Donohue said Baucus has met with the families of Newtown and prays for them daily. Baucus has voted for increased mental health care and school safety.

“At the same time, Max understands that what works in New York or California doesn’t necessarily work for Montana,” Donohue said. “Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, Max voted to boost gun prosecution in inner cities and high-crime areas, without adding burdens on law-abiding folks in Montana. The fact is we aren’t enforcing the laws already on the books.”

In 1994, Baucus voted for gun background checks and a ban on assault weapons proposed by President Bill Clinton.

With the NRA and other gun groups attacking him, Baucus survived his toughest race as a senator in 1996, defeating then-Lt. Gov. Denny Rehberg by 5 percentage points.

Baucus later reversed his position and now opposes background checks. The NRA endorsed him in his last race in 2008.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester voted for the background checks for guns this year, and Republican Rep. Steve Daines said he would oppose them if a bill came to the House.

Chuck Johnson is chief of the Lee Newspapers State Bureau in Helena. He can be reached by email at: chuck.johnson@lee.net or by phone at (406) 447-4066 or (800) 525-4920.

(20) comments

listen
listen

Isn't it funny how we have safe sex education (how to properly use a condom so it doesn't mis or back fire)? Safe how- to- feed- your face education? How to buckle up you and your kid's car seat? How not to take bad drugs only the good government big Pharma drugs prescribed and suggested by your kids' teachers and councilors? Yet no mandated gun safety classes. BTW, from listening to Curtis, doesn't seem that those anger management classes K-12 are working too well. My story? Back in NY a co-worker didn't show up for work day after Thanksgiving. We found out that her boyfriend killed her then turned the gun on himself. He was one of NY's Finest, a cop.

libertarian
libertarian

We should not use the words gun control. Let's stop all VICTIM DISARMAMENT laws. These laws simply disarm the victim. People have been killed while waiting for a background check and the waiting period to be completed, when the need for protection was now and not days later. We got the gun ban and Brady Bill in 94 because Republicans crossed over to join Democrats to pass those bills.

Oh Please
Oh Please

Gun Control... What a joke! If you don't want or like guns don't buy one! Criminals will be less apt to pull a gun if they know others out there have them. Criminals don't follow the laws so gun control hurts the law abiding citizen.

My idea of Gun Control is hitting what you are aiming, if you can't do that get a shotgun to have more of a chance of hitting that target.

jus wundrin
jus wundrin

79% in favor? Where did that number come from?

More people just pushing for emotionally driven legislation, nothing more. We already have background checks. Enforce those before pushing for more inane laws.

yougotitwrong22
yougotitwrong22

i wish job background checks were just as hard as gun background checks. i have never been in trouble but i know people who have and have felonys. i dont hang out with these people but some how they always get jobs.

trad man
trad man

Bloomberg is a New York idiot with billions and thinks we are stupid out west, and obviously several blogger are. When Lennon was shot ,New York had the most gun laws in the US. He thinks with all his billions he can buy votes and it is killing him that Americans see right through his agenda. There are more gun control laws on the books than most folks know about, they have been tacked on since JFK, thousands of laws, every state has their own, plus the national stuff. The are more guns, less crime in right to carry states, and no statistics to show gun control is the answer, or to curb mentally ill folks from getting a hold of a gun. There are mass murders in countries like England just as horrible and sometimes with more victims, a knife was used in China recently. We need to fix the privacy laws governing the mentally ill which we, joe blow tax payer, threw out on the streets years ago because we didn't want to support mental health in this country. A gun doesn't walk into a school or movie and shoot folks randomly, a nut case does and that is where this debate should end and begin to help change the laws protecting them and get them off our streets, not gun control!

Amabo
Amabo

Thanks for the last two comments.....which help to balance out all the stupid comments by the right-wing wackos! Anyone up to protesting at this weekend's "gun show"???

Stan Reck
Stan Reck

Protesting what? Folks exercising their constitutional rights? What, are you a nut job?

Hockey-dog
Hockey-dog

I'm going to protest in front of Car Dealerships this weekend, because more people are being killed in Car accidents than by guns in Montana! I sure wish they would fix these cars so they wouldn't just ram into power poles and Tbone other vehicles unexpectedly.
I also hate it when a motor vehicle can't get a drunk driver home safely! HOW ABOUT A BACKGROUND CHECK FOR PEOPLE LIKE THIS???? http://missoulian.com/search/?l=25&skin=/&sd=desc&s=start_time&f=html&q=13 dui

COMMON SENSE
COMMON SENSE

Oh, yes. Background checks will keep guns out of the hands of law-breakers. Why they'll just take one look at the law and say "oh shucks, I guess I can't get a legal, traceable gun with which I can commit a crime with. I guess I'll just have to scratch those plans I had to stick up that casino down the street." HOW MUCH MORE NAIVE CAN YOU BE! You people are either idiots or you think the rest of U.S. are. Let's say we enact your background checks. Regardless of it's effects, you people won't stop there, in another year you'll be back wanting us to ban or further restrict this or that. NYC city limits end about 2000 miles east of here, go back where you came from & tell Bloomberg to mind his own fraggin business & stay the he11 out of Montana. He was elected mayor of NYC, not governor, senator or representative of the state and people of Montana. Today your after our guns and in the finest traditions of Mayor Bloomberg's NYC, tomorrow you'll be trying to dictate what we can & can't eat and sell in our restaurants and grocery stores.

Hockey-dog
Hockey-dog

To add to your Comment: "Vern Tolstedt, a retired Helena physician, with his wife, Leona, standing beside him, told how their 31-year-old son was shot and killed in Seattle 25 years ago by a couple of teenagers with criminal records."

I'm sure these teenagers with criminal records were registered gun owners.... This is just another government control issue.

raptor53
raptor53

So another story leading the dumb American to believe there are no background checks currently. For all that believe that myth, go out tomorrow and try buy a handgun and see what paperwork you must fill out and then wait while they call the county sheriff to run your check. What ? You have an order of protection agaist you or a felony rap? Baaah. No gun. Sorry chum. Even the NRA supports background checks people. BUT, it's the governement agencies that are responsible to do it. You know, the same people that run the postal circus in the red and spend money they dont have. Feel better now?

c
c

Gotta thank Max on this one for truly representing his constituents, where as John was more worried about following Obama. Anyone who thinks more background checks is all Bloomberg wants hasn't been paying much attention.

Hakon Montag
Hakon Montag

"...stand up to fictitious counter arguments."

Oh! Like the one about gun violence?

It's not the gun. When you can figure that out then we'll talk.

Deadwolf
Deadwolf

Mayors Against Illegal Guns....another gun grabbing bunch led by Mayor Bloomberg. The Democrat/socialist/communists are never going to quit chipping away at the Constitution.

Roger
Roger

"Reasonable gun control" - that's what the gun-grabbers call disarming law-abiding Americans. The story didn't even note the number of people at the demonstration - it must have been very small. State Sen. Amanda Curtis will have a difficult time getting elected to the US House of Representatives - Many Montanans will not vote for a gun-grabber.

Gomez
Gomez

By parroting the black helicopter conspiracies you are playing right into the hands of the gun lobby. Their one and only interest is sell firearms. Please don't confuse their self serving personal interest for maximum profits with patriotism, constitutional rights or the right to defend ones self.

Roger
Roger

Wrong - the "gun lobby" wants to protect our Constitutional right to own and carry guns. Please don't confuse people who support the Second Amendment with the black helicopter crowd.

lightninsam
lightninsam

FYI----Wrap your guns in two layers of Reynolds-Wrap and they can't be "grabbed"---Ask anybody that's tried it:---Then tell every body you know----

Amabo
Amabo

Ha!

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