Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has been known to deviate from traditional Democratic views on gun control, but this Saturday he called for a complete ban on assault weapons.
Sander’s change of opinion comes in the wake of the tragic school shooting in Roseburg, Oregon earlier this month. The socialist candidate appeared in Tucson on Friday and in Boulder on Saturday, spending most of that time talking about guns. He cited the mass shooting in Oregon as well as two other recent school shootings, one in Arizona and another in Texas.
“Instead of people yelling at each other, we have got to come together on commonsense approaches which, in fact, the vast majority of the American people support,” said Sanders. There is “widespread support to ban semi-automatic assault weapons, guns which have no other purpose but to kill people,” he added.
Let me remind you that the state he represents, Vermont, is a rural state with lots of gun owners but few gun laws.
Sanders called for a similar weapons ban a few years ago after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut in 2012 that left 20 students and 6 teachers dead. Even so, Sanders has previously voted to shield gun manufacturers from liability for shootings (2005) and to allow firearms in national parks. While calling for a more strict background check procedure in 2013, he then decided to vote against a law that would have installed a 5-day waiting period for firearm purchases.
In regards to his decision to protect firearms manufacturers, he told NBC on Sunday: “That was a complicated vote and I’m willing to see changes in that provision,” “Here’s the reason I voted the way I voted: If you are a gun shop owner in Vermont and you sell somebody a gun and that person flips out and then kills somebody, I don’t think it’s really fair to hold that person responsible, the gun shop owner.”
“On the other hand, where there is a problem, is there is evidence that manufacturers, gun manufacturers, do know that they’re selling a whole lot of guns in an area that really should not be buying that many guns, that many of those guns are going to other areas, probably for criminal purposes? So, can we take another look at that liability issue? Yes.”
Will these inconsistent views hurt his campaign? Many expect the socialist candidate to come under criticism when the topic inevitably comes up tomorrow during the first Democratic debate.