After facing criticism from fellow 2020 hopefuls over his position on protecting gunmakers from lawsuits, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is telling voters that he no longer supports the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).
The measure includes a provision exempting gun manufacturers from being held liable in gun-related cases when the firearms were made and sold legally.
“In terms of the manufacturer’s liability, I am now on the bill that takes away that exemption,” Sanders said at a town hall in South Carolina on Monday, according to Breitbart. “My administration will do what the American people want, not what the NRA wants.”
While Sanders has never been a supporter of the National Rifle Association, he has not taken as extreme a position on guns as many others in his party, at least to this point.
Middle ground on guns?
While running for president in 2015, Sanders told CNN: “Folks who do not like guns [are] fine. But we have millions of people who are gun owners in this country — 99.9[%] of those people obey the law. I want to see real, serious debate and action on guns, but it is not going to take place if we simply have extreme positions on both sides. I think I can bring us to the middle.”
Since then, it seems the Vermont senator has flipped his script. On his website, Sanders has expressed support for such gun control measures as expanded background checks, closing the gun show loophole, banning assault weapons, banning high capacity magazines, and supporting “red flag” laws.
To gun-rights supporters, these measures would be repugnant. But Sanders’ purported reversal on PLCAA signifies an even more extreme position that moves far away from the “middle ground” he once claimed.
The change comes in response to criticism from the likes of former Vice President Joe Biden, according to Breitbart. Ahead of the town hall Monday, Mike Bloomberg also attacked Sanders on gun control in a tweet that accused him of being “beholden to the gun lobby.”
The NRA paved the road to Washington for Bernie Sanders.
He spent the next three decades making sure they got a return on their investment.
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 24, 2020
“He has never taken a dime”
Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver responded to Bloomberg’s tweet and accompanying video with a message denouncing the NRA and insisting the group never endorsed Sanders in congressional races.
“The NRA never endorsed Bernie Sanders and he has never taken a dime of their money. In fact, he lost his 1988 congressional race because he backed an assault weapons ban,” Weaver said, according to Politico. “But even after that, Sanders maintained his opposition to these weapons of war.”
Seems like Sanders’ Democratic rivals are looking to poke any weak spot they can find, and gun control may be one of only a few issues they see as an opportunity. Only time will tell if their strategy pays off.