Things are getting testy out in Nevada as we crash headlong toward caucus day. And with Joe Biden seeing his previous lead in the polls slipping away to Bernie Sanders, he has to find a way to draw a distinction and deflate some of the Democratic Socialist’s momentum. That means breaking out the oppo folder and finding some of Bernie’s old votes to throw in his face. This weekend Uncle Joe reached all the way back to 2005 when Sanders was still in the House of Representatives, bringing up his vote in favor of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). That’s the law that protects firearms manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits.
Biden talked about “carnage in our streets” and pledged to help overturn the law so manufacturers can be sued out of business. And then, without mentioning the Vermont Senator by name, he reminded the audience that “some… people” running for the nomination helped pass the bill. (Associated Press)
“When I’m the president, we’ll take them on, remove the immunity and allow those parents who are trying now to sue for the pain and mayhem they have caused,” Biden said on stage at the Tropicana casino-resort. The resort sits adjacent to the grounds where a gunman in 2017 unleashed a torrent of gunfire on a country music festival—an incident that only Biden referred to Saturday night.
Biden, after decrying “carnage in our streets” and the anguish of families whose loved ones were killed in gun violence, said he “will not rest until they’re able to sue the gun manufacturers and get a ban on assault weapons.”
Biden didn’t cite Sanders by name when referring to a 2005 federal law that shields gun makers from liability in most crimes, but said, “some of the people running for office voted for that exemption.”
Biden went on to say, “Ladies and gentlemen that immunity was granted. Granted. And it was a horrible, horrible decision.”
It’s true that Sanders voted in favor of the PLCAA (in a rare moment of common sense) and Biden voted against it in the Senate. But keep in mind that this isn’t really a gun control issue unless you believe that making guns less available by bankrupting the companies who make them falls into that category. Of course, it also makes guns less available to lawful gun owners who are able to pass background checks. What happened to Joe’s famous respect for the law-abiding?
Somehow I don’t think a promise to repeal the PLCAA is going to go over as well as Biden seems to believe, even in the Democratic primary. Opposition to that law demonstrates a lack of common sense on the part of the candidate to anyone who’s actually paying attention. Biden framed his statement in the context of getting rid of so-called “assault rifles.” But if you’re going to blame the manufacturer of a weapon for what someone later does with it, let’s review the most recent FBI crime statistics yet again.
Of 12,278 murders committed in the United States in 2018, 235 were committed using rifles. And that rifles of all types, not just the scary looking ones. By contrast, 1,545 were killed by someone using “knives or cutting instruments.” Another 431 were murdered through the use of “blunt objects” including baseball bats and hammers. Both of these categories accounted for far more “carnage in our streets” the rifles.
So should the manufacturers of kitchen cutlery sets be sued out of business? Perhaps the Louisville Slugger factory should be shut down, along with Craftsman and everyone else that sells carpentry tools. Is that what Joe Biden would like to see as President?
This is a fruitless line of attack and Sanders has long since retracted his support for the PLCAA. And Joe Biden is probably going after the wrong competitor anyway. He and Sanders fish from different pools of voters in the primary. If he’s losing ground to Bernie Sanders it’s because some of his most likely supporters are being drawn away by Buttigieg and Klobuchar. And more recently, you can add Bloomberg to that list. If Joe wants to get his momentum back and start challenging Sanders he should probably be trying to consolidate the more moderate voters under his flag and leave the socialist vote to Bernie.