Blocks from where nine people were killed in a mass shooting at a historic Charleston, S.C., black church in 2015, the Democratic presidential front-runner, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, was confronted on Tuesday night about his past support for a law that gave immunity to gun manufacturers in wrongful death lawsuits.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. raised questions about his onetime Senate colleague’s commitment to preventing gun violence, taking a similar tack as Hillary Clinton did in the Democratic Party’s nominating contest in 2016.
He zeroed in on Mr. Sanders’s vote to approve the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005, saying that the law has undermined efforts to hold gun manufacturers accountable after a spate of mass shootings.
“That has caused carnage on our streets,” Mr. Biden said during the CBS and Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate in Charleston.
Mr. Sanders has since pledged to help try to repeal the law, acknowledging that approving it was not his best moment.
“I’ve cast thousands of votes, including bad votes,” Mr. Sanders said. “That was a bad vote.”
Mr. Sanders’s rivals also drew attention to his opposition to the Brady Bill when he was a member of the U.S. House.
The law — named for James Brady, the White House press secretary who was nearly killed during an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981 — established a federal background-check program and mandatory five-day waiting period for gun purchases.
Mr. Sanders harkened back to when he lost his 1988 race for the U.S. House after pledging his support for an assault weapons ban.
“I’m proud to have a D-minus voting record from the N.R.A.,” Mr. Sanders said.
In 2018, Mr. Sanders received a grade of F from the National Rifle Association.
Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has spent millions of his fortune on gun control advocacy and founded what is now the group Everytown for Gun Safety, said his six-million-person organization has helped get background checks approved in 20 states. He faulted federal lawmakers for their lack of action on the issue.
“I don’t know why we think they can do it,” Mr. Bloomberg said.
Here’s a transcript:
BIDEN: Because I’m the only one who ever got it done nationally. I beat the N.R.A. Twice. I got assault weapons banned. I got magazines that could not hold more than 10 rounds in them. I got them eliminated. Except we had a thing called an election with hanging chads in Florida and it was not reauthorized.
In addition to that, I passed the Brady Bill with waiting periods. I led that fight. But my friend to my right and others have, in fact, also given the gun manufacturers absolute immunity. Imagine if I stood here and said we would give immunity to drug companies. We would give immunity to tobacco companies.
That has caused carnage on our streets. 150 million people have been killed since 2007 when Bernie voted to exempt the gun manufacturers from liability. More than all the wars, including Vietnam, from that point on. Carnage on our streets.
And I want to tell you, if I’m elected: N.R.A., I’m coming for you, and gun manufacturers, I’m going to take you on, and I’m going to beat you. I’m the only one who has done it.
Credit: Source link