There has been a lot of back and forth between the Clinton and Sanders camps about the gun issue, with Clinton claiming that Sanders has been less than honest about his take on guns, and Sanders responding by touting his D- rating from the NRA as proof that he’s as much of a gun-grabber as Hillary wants to be. I have to say from the gitgo that there would be no talk about gun violence in this campaign if we had waited for Bernie to bubble the issue up. This was Hillary’s impressive response to the shameful pro-gun pandering of the Republican candidates and her response alone; I’m not saying that it makes her a better candidate overall than Sanders but I am saying that she deserves all the credit on this one, bar none.
Be that as it may, I watched the Bernie-Hillary debate from Flint because I assumed that the gun issue would loom large, and loom it did about midway through the program when the father of one of the Kalamazoo victims had the following to say: “The man who shot everyone, including my daughter, in Kalamazoo, had no mental health issues recorded, and had a clear background. What do you plan to do to address this serious epidemic? I don’t want to hear anything about tougher laws for mental health or criminal backgrounds, because that doesn’t work.”
And Clinton, to her credit, went right to work first pushing for more comprehensive background checks, and then moving into a discussion of the immunity that gun makers have thanks to the 2005 law, known as PLCAA, which basically protects the industry from class-action suits. I don’t know if it was coincidence or what, but the day before this debate, the New York Times ran an editorial on wrongful-death suit that the Sandy Hook parents have brought against Remington/Bushmaster, and while the text was a bit garbled, the bottom line is that the PLCAA law does not immunize the gun industry if they knowingly produce a product that is dangerous to the consumers who purchase the item, whether the product is acquired legally or not.
Everyone knows that Bernie voted against the 2005 law, claiming that it wouldn’t stop anyone from committing violence with a gun. He also voted against the original Brady bill, basically for the same reason. But this past January he signed on as a co-sponsor of the Schiff bill that would repeal the PLCAA, which is why the Brady Campaign just issued a press release wanting to know exactly where Sanders stands. Which brings us back to the comments he made in his debate appearance in Flint.
And basically what he said isn’t going to leave the GVP community feeling all warm and fuzzy when it comes to the Sanders approach to guns. Because on the issue of immunity for the gun industry, the Senator from Vermont basically believes that as long as a gun is acquired legally, that whatever the owner then does with that gun should not result in any liability for the manufacturer at all. Otherwise, according to Sanders, holding the industry liable for how its products are used would “end gun manufacturing in America.” He then went on to say that if the manufacturer of a gun was held liable if that gun fell into the wrong hands and someone got shot, then “essentially you are saying that there should not be any guns in America, period.” To which, incidentally, the NRA this morning tweeted that Bernie was “spot on.”
Let me break the news to you gently, Bernie. There happen to be a lot of people in America who actually do believe that we’d all be better off without guns. And I thought that the whole point of your ‘revolution’ was to say and do things differently from the way they are usually said and done. Mind telling me what’s so new and different about pushing a view on guns that the NRA has been promoting for the past twenty years?