U.S. Senator from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who voted in 2005 for George W. Bush’s Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) preventing gun manufacturers from being held liable for crimes committed with their products, said on Sunday’s episode of NBC’s Meet the Press that he now supports changing the law.
In an interview in which Sanders challenged voters to contrast his “consistency” with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd noted that Democratic challengers might attack Sanders on his vote in favor of the PLCAA and asked him to explain it.
“That was a complicated vote and I’m willing to see changes in that provision. Here’s the reason I voted the way I voted: If you are a gun shop owner in Vermont and you sell somebody a gun and that person flips out and then kills somebody, I don’t think it’s really fair to hold that person responsible, the gun shop owner,” replied Sanders.
He added, “On the other hand, where there is a problem is there is evidence that manufacturers, gun manufacturers, do know that they’re selling a whole lot of guns in an area that really should not be buying that many guns. That many of those guns are going to other areas, probably for criminal purposes. So can we take another look at that liability issue? Yes.”
When Chuck Todd suggested that Bernie Sanders had called for “moderation” on gun control, Sanders corrected him and said, “I wouldn’t use the word, ‘moderation.’ That’s not quite the right word. This is what I do believe. I come from a state that has virtually no gun control. And yet, at political peril, I voted for an instant background check, which I want to see strengthened and expanded. I voted to ban certain types of assault weapons which are designed only to kill people.”
Sanders continued, “I voted to end the so-called gun show loophole. What I did say is that we even keep shouting at each other, which is what’s been going on here for 20 years. Ain’t going no where. And kids on campuses and children in schools are being slaughtered. What I think there needs to be is a dialogue. And here’s what I do believe, Chuck. I believe what I call common sense gun reform. Plus, a revolution in mental health, making sure that if people are having a nervous breakdown, or are suicidal, or homicidal, they get the care they need when they need it. I think the vast majority of the American people can support an agenda composed of those features.”
Breitbart’s Awr Hawkins pointed out that “Sanders’ admission that he is willing to reconsider his previous position on this topic comes nearly a week after Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton proposed changing current law to allow shooting victims and their families to sue gun manufacturers.”
At a Virginia campaign event in July which can be seen in the below-embedded video, Sanders also referenced differences in gun control policy on the basis of geography and demographics in a response to a gun control activist who challenged his vote in favor of the PLCAA and said, “People in urban America have got to appreciate, and I said this and let me repeat it, that the overwhelming majority of people who hunt know about guns and respect guns and are law abiding people. That’s the truth. And people in rural America have got to understand that in urban areas guns mean something very very different.”
However, at the event in July, Sanders chose only to defend his vote and said, “Point is that I made if someone sells you a baseball bat, and you hit somebody over the head, you’re not going to sue the baseball bat manufacturer.”
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