One of the benefits of the already tiring 2016 presidential election season is watching prospective nominees stake out positions that are getting more extreme with each passing day. On the Democratic side, it has been interesting observing Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders pull Hillary Rodham Clinton farther to the left. Really, there is little to Bernie Sanders’ positions to oppose for liberals and progressives, but on Sunday he revealed that there is one area that he is to the right of the former Secretary of State and Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton.
It is indisputable that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is obviously not any kind of conservative, or a Republican, but on Sunday he parroted something right out of the NRA fanatic wing of the Republican ranks. In fact, if someone had never heard Senator Sanders speak, or follow his decidedly left-leaning votes in the Senate, they might think he memorized a wildly popular NRA statement, verbatim, to respond to calls for sane gun laws following a mass shooting making the headlines a couple times every year. On a CNN Sunday political program, host Jake Tapper asked the Vermont Senator about his support and vote for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). The PLCAA is the law that protects gun and ammunition sellers from liability when they sell weapons that are used to kill human beings.
Senator Sanders explained his support for the retail gun industry thus; “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.”
Now, the idea of a hammer as a deadly mass murder weapon on par with a gun argument is a favorite of the NRA, 2nd Amendment crowd; frankly it was surprising to hear it coming from Senator Sanders. It is also an intellectually dishonest analogy. There have been no mass murders with a hammer like those at Sandy Hook, Aurora, Columbine, West Virginia Tech, or Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church ever. It is a pathetic argument to even pretend that a hammer is like a gun, and Senator Sanders is certainly better than the NRA gun fanatic crowd.
The Senator and Democratic presidential candidate said there is a major “difference between Vermont, a rural state with little gun control where hunting is a way of life, and cities like Chicago, where guns are used by gangs.” Citing Vermont where hunting is a way of life is fine, but Colorado, a state where hunting is also a way of life, like Connecticut, West Virginia, and South Carolina are not like Chicago either, but those states have witnessed mass shootings by gun fanatics who should never have been sold massive amounts of ammunition, or guns for that matter. If nothing else, the idea of a gun seller being held to some account for selling weapons and ammunition to ‘unstable’ maniacs would serve as an incentive for them to support and perform even a cursory check on perspective purchasers; gang members, no matter what city they reside, are not frequenting the local gun retailer or online sellers.
Sanders said, “Folks who do not like guns is (sic) fine. But we have millions of people who are gun owners in this country — 99.9% 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.” Here is the rub, though, with Senator Sanders’ argument to support his vote for the PLCAA. Several states did have laws in place to hold irresponsible gun sellers accountable for selling weapons and ammunition to maniacs who should not have them. However, those states’ laws were eliminated with the passage of the federal PLCAA that Sanders voted in support of. For the record, then-Senator Hillary Clinton, like many Democrats, voted against the PLCAA.