Back at the beginning of the summer I predicted that Bernie Sanders was going to get hit on guns if he started becoming too much of a threat to Hillary Clinton. No matter all of the discussion of his socialist bona fides, Bernie is from a gun friendly state and he reflected that in his policies for years, taking several votes in past decades which put him firmly on the wrong side of history for the national, liberal base of the Democrat party. I suppose the polls finally have his opponents paying attention and it turned out to be Dannel Malloy, speaking on behalf of Hillary, who went after him on the subject. This morning, Bernie showed up on Jake Tapper’s State of the Union to explain himself.
Bernie Sanders says he favors gun control measures just as strongly as his Democratic presidential rivals, touting his rural-state roots as key to his chances of enacting “real, constructive” legislation.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday on “State of the Union,” the Vermont senator touted his career “D-” rating from the National Rifle Association.
“I do not accept the fact that I have been weak on this issue. In fact, I have been strong on this issue,” Sanders said. “And in fact, coming from a rural state which has almost no gun control, I think I can get beyond the noise and all of these arguments and people shouting at each other, and come up with real, constructive gun control legislation which most significantly gets guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.”
Right off the bat Bernie was on the defensive as Tapper pressed him. He was trying to point to his D- NRA rating, but was careful to point out that this is his lifetime average. A lot of the negative marks were racked up in recent years, but he carried a significantly better grade in years gone by. While most candidates would be a bit more proud of having a decent NRA rating, given that a majority of Americans find gun rights to be important, Bernie is in a primary battle where the NRA is essentially the Devil and he’s trying to distance himself as much as possible.
Still, when Jake tried to get him to expand on the subject, noting that he voted against the Brady Bill and other big gun grabbing measures, Sanders kept going back to his more recent history.
He said he voted for a semi-automatic gun ban, for instant background checks on gun buyers and to end a loophole that allows below-the-radar purchases at gun shows.
It’s kind of sad that one of the few areas where I could actually find something to like about the famous socialist is precisely the one thing that he’s running away from as hard as possible. Unfortunately the internet has a long memory and the people running against Sanders aren’t simply going to let him forget his past or paint it with a new brush now that he wants to be president. And that’s probably a good thing for whoever the GOP nominee winds up being. If Bernie somehow manages to pull off a miracle and capture the nomination, that would have been a big “centrist” selling point for him in the general election which he could have touted to show that he was in touch with regular Americans and not just some far left loon. But now he’s pretty much blown up any gun rights credentials he might have been trying to hold on to.