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Gun Control Advocates Push for Background Checks

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MISSOULA -

It was a clash of two schools of thought today when the group "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" and a large group of gun rights advocates met during a rally at The University of Montana.

The sister of a victim in the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy was joined by local gun control advocates, urging elected officials to support background checks for all guns sales.

But, the rally was interrupted by a group of Montanans who say stronger gun control laws infringe on Americans' right to bear arms.

Carlee Soto, 20, said she lost her role model and big sister, Victoria, 27, last year when she was shot down in the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Soto said, "Vicki loved teaching, and she died protecting her kids."

Now, Soto has joined members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns on the "No More Names" nationwide bus tour to voice support for bipartisan, background checks legislation.

"It's an emotional experience telling my sister's story is hard, having to go around and explain what happened," Soto said.

Members of MAIG said it's far too easy for criminals, the seriously mentally ill, and other dangerous people to buy a gun online or at a gun show. They're urging leaders like Senator Max Baucus, who voted against a background checks bill, to support strengthening gun control laws to avoid tragedies like the Newtown massacre.

Soto added, "I'll never be able to see my sister again, and our goal is to prevent this from happening again, to strengthen our gun laws."

However, representatives for Senator Baucus said there is currently no pending gun legislation before the Senate, and the background checks bill was a one-size-fits-all approach that wouldn't have worked for Montana.

Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, said background checks make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to purchase guns.

Marbut said, "We don't like them trying to overturn our Montana culture, and replace it with their New York City culture, we want to keep our Montana heritage."

Marbut, flanked by other gun rights advocates, marched to the ongoing No More Names rally this afternoon, where speakers read off the names of more than 7,000 people who have been killed with guns since Newtown.

"You don't make people safer, by taking away from them, the ability to protect themselves," said Marbut.

The No More Names bus tour is traveling through 25 states in 100 days.

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