Gun control continues to be nationally debated in the wake of the most recent mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school. As part of the Montana Public Media “Guns in the Big Sky” series, Montana Public Radio recently aired a live, one-hour discussion of whether new gun control legislation is necessary, or simply a knee jerk reaction to tragedy. News Director Sally Mauk hosted the discussion, featuring four panelists: hunters Doug Webber and Ed Monnig, Dana Gale of “Moms Demand Action”, and Ravalli County Sheriff Chis Hoffman. Listeners also submitted questions online. The discussion covered everything from universal background checks to banning semi-automatic weapons.
Congressman Steve Daines has spent this week touring Montana businesses – from gun manufacturers to lumber mills. He’s in Missoula today to tour the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and meet with a local sportsmens’ organization. He also took time to sit down with News Director Sally Mauk to talk about guns, conservation – and his political future. Daines would have voted against the bill to expand background checks on gun buyers.
About a dozen people, including moms pushing babies in strollers, held a small rally today outside the Missoula offices of Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester over the issue of gun control. Organizer Nancy de Pastino of the group “Moms Demand Action” says they wanted to thank Tester for his support of expanded background checks on gun buyers, and to say “shame on you” to Senator Baucus for voting against the expansion.
“”It’s not infringing on anybody’s Second Amendment rights,” said de Pastino.”The whole point is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the severely mentally ill.”
Baucus’s office was closed during the lunch hour protest. The senator has said he voted against the background check expansion because that’s what the majority of Montanans wanted him to do. He says if a new bill is introduced he will evaluate it based on the feedback he gets from Montanans.
Maggie Angle brought her two young daughters in a stroller to today’s rally. She says the Newtown shootings changed everything.
“”As a mom, obviously it hit really close to home,” Angle said.”The idea that you could send your children to school just like any other day…and something completely and totally devastating happens.”
Angle says she supports the Second Amendment but believes some measures, like expanded background checks, are reasonable
Budget deficit, gun control, climate change, immigration reform – that’s the full plate Congress is facing at a time when the American public has little faith they can accomplish anything, much less tackle all of the above. In this feature interview, News Director Sally Mauk talks with Democratic Senator Jon Tester about these pending controversial issues. First on the agenda is the March first deadline when 85 billion dollars worth of spending cuts go into effect, unless Congress passes either a short or long term budget plan.
Nancy de Pastino was heartbroken when she heard about the Newtown shooting. The Missoula mom and portrait photographer first hugged her children, then went and hugged her daughter’s first grade teacher. Then she started a Montana chapter of the national organization “One Million Moms for Gun Control”, an organization started by a mom in Indiana, right after the Newtown massacre.
In this feature interview, de Pastino tells News Director Sally Mauk she took the Newtown shooting “very personally” and decided to become an activist for gun control.