U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders treats the U.S. Constitution like a lost set of keys. He’s suddenly found it and wants the world to know.
The Vermont Independent who is campaigning as a “democratic socialist” took questions during a campaign stop in Iowa when he was asked if he supported so-called mandatory buybacks of modern sporting rifles.
“I don’t support – a mandatory buyback is essentially confiscation, which I think is unconstitutional,” he replied. “It means that I am going to walk into your house and take something whether you like it or not. I don’t think that stands up to constitutional scrutiny.”
Against It Before He Was for It
Sander’s sudden discovery of his voice for Constitutional rights might come as a surprise, especially for the firearms industry and gun owners. He was suspiciously quiet when Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) called for outright confiscation last summer. He didn’t raise a concern later when former Congressman Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke couldn’t help himself when he exclaimed, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”
Not a peep out of the Vermont senator then.
Just because he found out the Constitution bars the government from seizing lawfully owned firearms, he might want to read more. He’s still ignoring pretty important parts.
In the same breath that he doubted the government’s right to unilaterally take guns from law-abiding citizens, he muttered out loud that it was perfectly okay to ban the sale of those same commonly-owned firearms. He must have been so giddy about rediscovering his pocket edition of the Constitution that he completely forgot the landmark 2008 Heller decision in which the late Justice Antonin Scalia correctly stated the government couldn’t ban an entire class of firearms.
If he wanted to do some more studying up on the subject, he could read Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s defense of semiautomatic rifles, like the AR-15, as commonly owned. He might also want to read what Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch wrote when they blasted the “distressing trend” of treating “the Second Amendment as a disfavored right.”
Even more curious is that Sen. Sanders’ new-found fondness for the Constitution comes on the heels of the endorsements of members of Congress who seem to abhor it. U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) recently endorsed the Democratic candidate for president.
Rep. Ocasio Cortez wants to ban all semiautomatics, not just modern sporting rifles. Rep. Tlaib co-sponsored legislation to ban modern sporting rifles. Rep. Omar signed onto the same bill and once claimed 500 people die each day to so-called gun violence. Politifact called her out on the claim, rating it “false.”
This much is certain. Sen. Sanders’ selective interpretation of the Constitution is suspect. His silence when it was convenient, though, was telling.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.