Tonight’s Democratic debate was punctuated by a great deal of
baying for blood cheering. In the segment on gun control, Hillary Clinton ignored a question about her ridiculous assertion that Vermont fuels New York’s “gun violence” with illegal guns. Once again, Ms. Clinton [falsely] asserted that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act gives the firearms industry unique protection from legal liability. “We hear a lot from Senator Sanders about the greed and recklessness of Wall Street,” Clinton said, “what about the greed and recklessness of the gun manufacturers in America?” And the crowd goes wild! Sanders responded by highlighting his longstanding support for an “assault weapons” ban and his D- NRA rating. While the comment got a relatively minor cheer, only in the Democratic Party can a failing grade be a major source of pride. Just sayin’. Here’s a transcript of the whole gun control segment . . .
We’re going to turn to another critically important issue right now, guns in America. Secretary Clinton, you’ve said that Vermont, Senator Sanders’ home state, has, quote, “the highest per capita number of guns that end up committing crimes in New York.” But only 1.2 percent of the guns recovered in New York in 2014 were from Vermont. Are you seriously blaming Vermont, and implicitly Senator Sanders, for New York’s gun violence?
CLINTON: No, of course not. Of course not. This is — this is a serious difference between us.
And what I want to start by saying — it’s not a laughing matter — 90 people on average a day are killed or commit suicide or die in accidents from guns, 33,000 people a year. I take it really seriously, because I have spent more time than I care to remember being with people who have lost their loved ones.
So, yes, we have a problem in America. We need a president who will stand up against the gun lobby. We need a president who will fight for commonsense gun safety reforms.
And what we have here is a big difference. Senator Sanders voted against the Brady Bill five times. He voted for the most important NRA priority, namely giving immunity from liability to gun-makers and dealers, something that is at the root of a lot of the problems that we are facing.
Then he doubled down on that in the New York Daily News interview, when asked whether he would support the Sandy Hook parents suing to try to do something to rein in the advertising of the AR-15, which is advertised to young people as being a combat weapon, killing on the battlefield. He said they didn’t deserve their day in court.
CLINTON: I could not disagree more.
And, finally, this is the only industry in America, the only one.
CLINTON: That has this kind of special protection. We hear a lot from Senator Sanders about the greed and recklessness of Wall Street, and I agree. We’ve got to hold Wall Street accountable…
BLITZER: … Thank you…
CLINTON: … Well, what about the greed and recklessness of gun manufacturers and dealers in America?
BLITZER: Senator? Well, the only problem is, Wolf, she didn’t answer your question.
You asked her whether she thought that Vermont was responsible. You asked her whether she thought that Vermont was responsible for a lot of the gun violence. You made the point what she said was totally absurd.
BLITZER: I asked her, are you seriously blaming Vermont and implicitly Senator Sanders for New York’s gun violence. She said no. But, go ahead.
SANDERS: Then why did she put out that statement?
CLINTON: I put it out…
SANDERS: … Excuse me, I think I’m responding now.
BLITZER: Please, go ahead sir.
SANDERS: A statement that was refuted by the governor of the state of Vermont, who was a supporter of hers, who said, yeah, in campaigns people tend to exaggerate.
Here is the fact on guns. Let’s talk about guns. That horrible, horrible Sandy Hook — what’s the word we want to use, murder, assault, slaughter, unspeakable act.
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 seen them sold or distributed in the United States of America.
I’ve got a D-minus voting record from the NRA.
And, in fact, because I come from a state which has virtually no gun control, I believe that I am the best qualified candidate to bring back together that consensus that is desperately needed in this country.
BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Thank you.
BLITZER: Secretary Clinton, I want you to respond to that, but why did you put out that statement blaming Vermont and its gun policy for some of the death of — by guns in New York?
CLINTON: Well, the facts are that most of the guns that end up committing crimes in New York come from out of state. They come from the states that don’t have kind of serious efforts to control guns that we do in New York.
But let me say this — in 1988, as we’ve heard on every debate occasion, Senator Sanders did run for the Congress and he lost. He came back in 1990 and he won, and during that campaign he made a commitment to the NRA that he would be against waiting periods.
And, in fact, in his own book, he talks about his 1990 campaign, and here’s what he said. He clearly was helped by the NRA, because they ran ads against his opponent. So, then he went to the Congress, where he has been a largely very reliable supporter of the NRA. Voting — he kept his word to the NRA, he voted against the Brady Bill five times because it had waiting periods in it.
Thankfully, enough people finally voted for it to keep guns out of the hands of who should not have them.
BLITZER: Senator, I want you to respond, but I also want you to respond to this. You recently said you do not think crime victims should be able to sue gun makers for damages. The daughter of the Sandy Hook Elementary School who was killed back in the 2012 mass shooting, says you owe her and families an apology. Do you?
SANDERS: What we need to do is to do everything that we can to make certain that guns do not fall into the hands of people who do not have them.
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 who just sold a legal weapon to be held accountable and be sued.
But, what I do believe is when gun shop owners and others knowingly are selling weapons to people who should not have them — somebody walks in.
SANDERS: They want thousands of rounds of ammunition, or they want a whole lot of guns, yes, that gun shop owner or that gun manufacturer should be held liable.
BLITZER: So, Senator, do you owe the Sandy Hook families an apology?
SANDERS: No, I don’t think I owe them an apology. They are in court today, and actually they won a preliminary decision today. They have the right to sue, and I support them and anyone else who wants the right to sue.
CLINTON: Well, I believe that the law that Senator Sanders voted for that I voted against, giving this special protection to gun manufacturers and to dealers, is an absolute abdication of responsibility on the part of those who voted for it.
This is a — this is a unique gift given to only one industry in the world by the United States Congress, as Senator Murphy from Connecticut said, we have tougher standards holding toy gun manufacturers and sellers to account than we do for real guns.
And the point that Senator Sanders keeps making about how he wouldn’t want a mom and pop store — that was not the point of this. And if he can point to any, any incident where that happened, I would love to hear about it.
What was really going on, I’ll tell you, because it has a lot to do with New York City. New York City was on the brink of being able to hold manufacturers and dealers accountable through a very carefully crafted legal strategy.
BLITZER: Thank you.
CLINTON: The NRA came to their supporters in the Congress and said, stop it, stop it now, and Senator Sanders joined those who did.
BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.
Senator, go ahead.
SANDERS: Let me just reiterate — just reiterate so there is no confusion, decades ago, before it was popular, in a rural state with no gun control, Bernie Sanders said, let’s ban assault weapons, not see them distributed in the United States of America.
BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.