As you may be aware Senator Max Baucus is retiring. He could be described as a conservative Democrat or if he was a Republican he might be thought of as a liberal Republican. Some thought his decision to vote against S. 649: The Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 was a political one since he would be up for re-election in 2014 but since he announced his retirement one would have to assume that his was a vote of conscience.

Why? What person with a conscience could vote against a bill which makes background check for firearms sales universal (with the exception written into the bill of sales between nuclear family members as well as grandchildren and their grandparents)? If you listened to some commentators or pundits you'd think they loaded down this bill with gun control measures but there are NONE. I repeat, SB 649 is not a gun control bill. The only other measures in the bill called for 1) new laws against gun trafficking and straw purchases and 2) grants for beefed up security at public schools. Nothing about clip size or assault rifles... nothing.

So what is Senator Baucus' problem with this legislation? The argument that only criminals will break the law doesn't hold water since by definition anyone who breaks a law is a criminal. That logic would dictate that we have no laws because only criminals will break laws.

In recent polls 90% of Americans (admittedly probably a lower number here in Montana) are in favor of universal background checks. The NRA's position was that friends and family should be able to share or sell weapons amongst themselves. The Toomey-Manchin bill compromises to allow family members to sell or gift guns to each other. The goal is to make it illegal for people to sell or give weapons to the mentally deranged or a convicted felon. Who could possibly be against that? So why would any legislator vote no on this common sense legislation? If you'd like to call Senator Baucus' office for an explanation his phone number is (800) 332-6106 and his e-mail is  scheduling@baucus.senate.gov.