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Tester Parries Group’s Plea to Abandon Bill on D.C. Gun Laws

Updated: 3:08 p.m.Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is disputing the claims of a D.C. voting rights group that he is considering removing his name as a sponsor from a bill that would overturn gun control laws in the District.The fight in Congress over D.C. gun laws has stalled legislation that would provide D.C. with a voting Representative in the House.Tester met with a group of D.C. voting rights advocates Thursday, saying he would take their concerns and frustrations into consideration.The group, which included local clergy and members of DC Vote, went to Tester’s office Thursday morning without a scheduled appointment and demanded to meet with him. When they were initially told to come back at a later date, the group held hands in a circle and began praying for a meeting, which Tester granted about 45 minutes later.“We told him that we want him to take his name off the gun bill as a co-sponsor,” said Ilir Zherka, executive director of DC Vote. “We shared with him that we want to be afforded the same rights as Montanans to decide our local laws. We told Tester that he would not allow the D.C. Council to write laws for Montana.”According to Zherka, after listening to the group’s points, Tester said he would consider removing his name from the Second Amendment Enforcement Act, which he has co-sponsored with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). But Tester’s office disputes this claim and has publicized a transcript of the meeting, in which Tester thanks the group members for taking time out of their day to meet with him. During the meeting, Tester said, “If I’m going to be right straight honest with you, we can agree to disagree on some of this stuff. ... I will take your thoughts under consideration.”Zherka said Tester told the group that he has a lot on his plate at the moment and is busy dealing with financial reform, the BP oil spill and a nomination to the Supreme Court.“Those are the things he should be working on, not D.C.’s local laws,” Zherka said. “We left a letter signed by 20 clergy and told him we would be back.”

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