Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, when prompted to speak about her previous insinuation that guns from Vermont are responsible for gun violence in New York, started attacking Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders over his past votes against some gun control measures.
When asked if she was suggesting that Vermont (and therefore Sanders) was directly responsible for gun violence in New York, she said, “No, of course not — of course not. This is a serious difference between us and I want to start by saying — it’s not a laughing matter.”
Clinton highlighted Sander’s vote against a federal assault weapons ban and in favor of immunity for gun manufacturers.
“We need a president who will fight for common-sense gun safety reforms and what we have here is a big difference. Sen. Sanders voted against the Brady Bill five time,” Clinton said. “He voted for the most important NRA priority, namely, giving immunity from liability to gun makers and dealer — something that is the root of a lot of the problems we are facing.”
In the light of the past several years of an unprecedented amount of violent school shootings, from Sandy Hook to Virginia Tech, casting Sanders in such a light is a serious implication, indeed. Since 32% of adults own a gun, the debate is much more nuanced than it at first appears, even for Democrats for whom liberal policy is the forefront of their campaigns.
Sanders quickly countered that, “Back in 1988, I ran for the United States Congress’ one seat in the state of Vermont, I probably lost that election, which I lost by three points, because I was the only candidate running who said you know what, we should ban assault weapons, not see them sold and distributed in the United States of America.”
Sanders continued to note that he had a D-minus voting record from the NRA, and to assert that his being from a state which has basically no gun control makes him the best candidate to hand a consensus about gun control.
Clinton said that although Sanders may once have been against assault weapons, he had been a reliable supporter of the NRA ever since. When moderator Wolf Blizter asked Sanders if he felt he owed an apology to the families of the Sandy Hook massacre, he said no, and tried to clarify why he had supported legislation granting immunity to gun manufacturers.
“Now, I voted against this gun liability law because I was concerned that in rural areas all over this country, if a gun shop owner sells a weapon legally to somebody, and that person then goes out and kills somebody, I don’t believe it is appropriate that that gun shop owner be held accountable and sued,” said Sanders.