Montana senators divided on response to mass shootings

With a vote expected as early as Thursday, Montana’s senators are divided on a bipartisan bill to address mass shootings by tightening gun laws while expanding mental health programs and school security.

The bill, which appeared Tuesday evening to have the 60 votes necessary for success in the Senate, became the most supported attempt to curb gun violence since the 1993 passage of The Brady Bill, which established criminal background checks for gun buyers. Then and now, Montana’s Democratic and Republican lawmakers split on the issue.

In a test vote Tuesday evening to gauge support, the “Bipartisan Safe Communities Act,” Montana Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, was among the 50 Democrats and 14 Republicans supporting debate on the bill, while Republican Steve Daines was among the 34 Republicans opposed.

The bill comes on the heels of the May 24 massacre of 19 elementary school children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. The shooter was an 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, who bought the weapons and ammo used in the shooting just days earlier after turning 18.

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