BILLINGS – U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., voted with Republicans to kill Democratic lawmakers' attempts to toughen background checks for gun purchases on Monday.
Tester was one of three Democrats to vote against proposals by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., to close the "gun show loophole," which allows firearms to be sold at gun shows without a background check. The proposal also would have ended background check-free gun sales on the internet.
According to a statement from Tester's Communications Director Marneé Banks, "Jon opposed this amendment because it would have blocked family members and neighbors from buying and selling guns to one another without a background check. Jon said this amendment would jeopardize the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens."
The other Democrats voting no were Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, N.D., and Joe Manchin, W.Va.
Tester was immediately attacked on social media by Democrats for not voting with his party. The left-leaning group MoveOn.org said Tester, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, should "should be ashamed for blocking comprehensive background checks for gun purchases."
Monday's votes on four partisan gun control bills proposed by either Republicans or Democrats come one week after a mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, killed 49 and wounded 53.
The votes were preceded by a filibuster by Senate Democrats demanding action on guns. Tester did not participate in the filibuster, either.
Tester did support an attempt to ban gun sales to people on the federal terrorist watch list.
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., voted in favor of a proposal by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to investigate people on the terrorist watch list when they attempt to buy guns. He also supported denying gun sales to suspected or known terrorists, but only if prosecutors could prove within three days that the would-be gun buyer was involved in terrorism.
Daines also supported a proposal by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, to increase money for background checks while also encouraging states to give the FBI more information about people banned from gun purchasing. Grassley also wanted to change rules banning gun sales to some people with mental health issues.