Butte lawmaker to speak out at Tuesday rally for background checks before gun sales

2013-07-22T18:44:00Z 2013-07-22T23:55:50Z Butte lawmaker to speak out at Tuesday rally for background checks before gun salesBy JOHN GRANT EMEIGH Montana Standard The Billings Gazette

An issue like gun control may be too hot for some politicians with hopes for re-election to address.

But for state Rep. Amanda Curtis, D-Butte, the issue is too personal for her to ignore.

Curtis, who supports the right for law-abiding citizens to own guns, will be one of the only local politicians speaking at a rally in Helena on Tuesday in support of comprehensive background checks before all gun sales.

The rally is part of a 25-state tour called “No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence,” and will feature family members of the victims of the Newtown, Conn., massacre, along with faith leaders and retired law enforcement.

The purpose of the rally is to encourage U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to reconsider his stance on background check legislation.

The freshman state legislator said she’s aware she will probably be the only politican attending a rally for such a controversial issue.

“It’s something everyone is afraid to talk about,” Curtis said.

But she’s not afraid.

Talking about this subject sometimes brings her to tears.

She was 17 when her family received a late-night call telling them to come immediately to the hospital in Billings. Her 16-year-old brother was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot.

He was at a house party. Present were adults, drugs, alcohol and a gun. The official report was that her brother was playing Russian roulette. Curtis said the gun didn’t didn’t belong to her brother and shouldn’t have been in that home that night.

“It should not have been in his hands,” she said.

Curtis believes background checks can prevent these types of tragedies.

Tuesday’s rally will take place at the Montana State Capitol at 11 a.m.

According to a news release from No More Names, family members of victims killed in the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary are scheduled to speak. Twenty children and six adults were killed in that mass shooting.

“It remains far too easy for criminals, domestic abusers, the seriously mentally ill, and other dangerous individuals — people who know they can’t pass a background check — to skirt the law and obtain guns by purchasing them online or at gun shows, where background checks are not required under federal law,” according to the news release.

Curtis noted that she and her husband, Kevin, are gun owners and support responsible gun ownership.

“I would be the first person to stand up for your constitutional right to own a gun,” she said.

Curtis supports background checks on all gun purchases that would also include the sale of firearms at gun shows. She says this is “common sense” gun reform that nearly 80 percent of Montanans support.

Curtis believes many politicians avoid addressing gun control issues for fear of losing voter support. She also says the gun lobby in Washington has great influence over politicans.

Curtis said she isn’t afraid to voice her opinion on an issue in which she strongly believes. Even if it may cost her votes.

“You can’t legislate based on your re-election,” she said.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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