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Lobbies wage high-priced fight over gun control

Published On: Apr 18 2013 07:00:40 PM MDT   Updated On: Apr 18 2013 07:06:41 PM MDT

NBC Montana reported on Wednesday on how the senate rejected a bipartisan bill to expand background checks for gun buyers, along with bans on assault weapons and high-volume ammunition clips. Most Republicans and Four Democrats from states with high gun ownership voted against expanding background checks, arguing the law did little to make people safer.

Now, NBC Montana has dug into how Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester voted. Baucus was one of four democrats to vote against the bill. Jon Tester voted for it. 

Senator Baucus is taking national heat from a group called the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and other special interests that have pushed him to vote for enhanced gun control. Insiders tell NBC Montana that Baucus is getting calls eight to one from Montanans who support his vote.

NBC Montana took a look at a transparency website called Opensecrets.org. The site breaks down what type of donations lawmakers get, and one page shows a breakdown of how senators voted on the background check amendment, and how much money the site says they’ve gotten from gun rights PACS. Baucus has $7,950 listed, and Tester has $2,000 listed.

 NBC Montana asked staff at the site’s operator, Center for Responsive Politics, to pull some data. According to their data, Senator Max Baucus received $22,800 from gun rights PACS from 1989 to now. The staff tells NBC Montana all the money is from the NRA except for $500 from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The NRA donated the maximum amount when they donated, of $5,000 per election. However, it should be noted, that’s a relatively small amount when compared to the more than $3.5 million of cash Baucus’ PAC, Friends of Baucus, has on-hand as of the last check-in on Open Secrets’ website.

Baucus’ team tells NBC Montana the gun rights money didn’t impact Baucus vote, but rather the voice of his constituents.

Tester hasn’t received any money from the NRA, but the National Shooting Sports Foundation gave him $2,000 in his last campaign cycle. Tester’s team also tells NBC Montana that campaign contributions have no influence on his votes.