Bernie Sanders: Extremists From Both Sides Hurt The Gun Control Conversation

| by Ethan Brown

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders believes members of Congress and the American public can come together to find common ground to pass fair gun control legislation if he were elected president.

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on July 5, Sanders explained his position on gun control and seemed to understand the views of those on both sides of the controversial issue.

“If somebody has a gun and it falls into the hands of a murderer and the murderer kills somebody with a gun, do you hold the gun manufacturer responsible? Not any more than you would hold a hammer company responsible if somebody beats somebody over the head with a hammer. That is not what a lawsuit should be about,” the Vermont senator said.

He correlated the nation’s views on gun control with a “cultural divide that exists in this country,” specifically focusing on the different views from state to state.

For example, The Washington Post noted in May that Sanders had voted as a moderate on gun control legislation in the past. The Post said that “Hunting is a way of life in Vermont, and so are guns,” meaning that the senator was voting more with his constituency in the state than Democratic voters in California who likely supported the additional gun control measures.

While Sanders is typically seen as the liberal alternative to Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, his voting record on gun control could come back to hurt him during primary season.

In 1993, Sanders voted against the Brady Bill, legislation that was created following the attempted murder of former President Ronald Reagan in 1981. The bill’s main focus was to increase background checks for all gun purchases, with Sanders opposing it based on Vermont’s support of gun rights.

He broke away from his Democratic colleagues in 2005 when he supported gun manufacturers in legislation that would have permitted families of victims of gun violence to sue the manufacturing company for damages.

Since the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut, in July and December 2012, respectively, Sanders has voted more with his own party on gun control. After the Connecticut shootings, Sanders called for a ban on all assault weapons and reversed his previous decision on the Brady Bill, which he now supports.

During his interview on CNN, he noted the differences between those in Vermont who use guns to hunt and those in major cities, such as Chicago, who use guns for violence.

“Folks who do not like guns is fine. But we have millions of people who are gun owners in this country — 99.9 percent of those people obey the law. I want to see real, serious debate and action on guns, but it is not going to take place if we simply have extreme positions on both sides. I think I can bring us to the middle,” he said.

Sources: The Washington Post, CNN

Photo Credit: AFGE/Flickr Creative Commons