File this one under “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” slate.com’s headline proclaims Bernie Sanders, Gun Nut. The anti-gun agit-prop propagators have it in for the “far-left” (socialist) Democrat Senator from Vermont, a man who dares challenge Hillary Clinton for her party’s endorsement for President. The list of pro-gun “charges” against Sanders is guaranteed to warm gun rights advocates’ hearts – until they see his entire record on the issue. But first . . .
In 1993, then-Rep. Sanders voted againstthe Brady Act, which mandated federal background checks for gun purchasers and restricted felons’ access to firearms. As a senator, Sanders supported bills toallow firearms in checked bags on Amtrak trains and block funding to any foreign aid organization that registered or taxed Americans’ guns. Sanders is dubious that gun control could help prevent gun violence, telling one interviewer after Sandy Hook that “if you passed the strongest gun control legislation tomorrow, I don’t think it will have a profound effect on the tragedies we have seen.” (He has since endorsed some modest gun control measures.)
Modest, eh? The NRA considers Senator Sanders’ position on gun control — including support for the original “assault weapons ban” and a post-Sandy Hook bill banning “high capacity” (greater than 10-rounds) ammunition magazines and voting against national reciprocity twice — worthy of an F-rating. With friends like these?
Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern’s smoking gun/bee-in-his-bonnet: Sanders’ vote for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which shields the firearms industry from lawsuits related to the illegal use of their products. Stern goes on and on about how odious this law is, despite the fact that it is in no way odious. But before his indigestible digression, Stern acknowledges a few facts.
None of these views are particularly shocking for a Vermont representative: Sanders’ deep-blue state has both high gun ownership and incredibly lax gun laws, and it’s perfectly logical for the senator to support his constituents’ firearms enthusiasm. And a close friend of Sanders once said that the senator “thinks there’s an elitism in the anti-gun movement.”
Now if Sanders came out and said that, and explained his reasoning, pro-gun rights Americans would have something to cheer about. But Bernie’s a Democrat politician running for President, hoping that Hillary Clinton drops dead, either politically or literally. So he won’t challenge the party line. So it goes.