Once again Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton debated one another. And, once again the issue of firearms was brought up. More specifically, the issue of whether gun manufacturers and dealers should have protection against lawsuits from the criminal misuse of their products.
Just to be clear, in one corner you have Clinton, who believes the current law that protects the gun industry from frivolous lawsuits — Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) — should be torn to shreds, which — as the former Secretary of State is undoubtedly aware — would effectually bankrupt the industry.
In the other corner you have Sen. Sanders, who although he may be anti-gun, has enough common sense to recognize that gun dealers and manufacturers shouldn’t be held liable for the actions of bad guys with guns.
At the debate in Brooklyn Thursday night, Clinton fired the first salvo, bringing up the difference between their two camps on the PLCAA.
“Senator Sanders voted against the Brady Bill five times,” said Clinton. “He voted for the most important NRA priority, namely giving immunity from liability to gun-makers and dealers, something that is at the root of a lot of the problems that we are facing.”
“Then he doubled down on that in the New York Daily News interview, when asked whether he would support the Sandy Hook parents suing to try to do something to rein in the advertising of the AR-15, which is advertised to young people as being a combat weapon, killing on the battlefield. He said they didn’t deserve their day in court,” she continued.
Clinton’s attack on Sanders crescendoed with, “We hear a lot from Senator Sanders about the greed and recklessness of Wall Street, and I agree. We’ve got to hold Wall Street accountable… Well, what about the greed and recklessness of gun manufacturers and dealers in America?”
Sanders then had to defend his position — once again.
“Now, I voted against this gun liability law because I was concerned that in rural areas all over this country, if a gun shop owner sells a weapon legally to somebody, and that person then goes out and kills somebody, I don’t believe it is appropriate that that gun shop owner who just sold a legal weapon to be held accountable and be sued,” said Sanders.
Sanders was asked about the Sandy Hook families who are suing Bushmaster, arguing that it “knew, or should have known” that the AR-15 “posed an unreasonable and egregious risk of physical injury to others” and whether he owed them an apology for not supporting their lawsuit.
“No, I don’t think I owe them an apology,” said Sanders. “They are in court today, and actually they won a preliminary decision today. They have the right to sue, and I support them and anyone else who wants the right to sue.”
Yes, everyone has a right to sue. But not all lawsuits are credible. The case against Bushmaster is totally frivolous.
All of this back and forth came up within the context of another gun-related issue, Clinton’s recent claim that Vermont is a major source for crime guns recovered in New York. Clinton was asked about this misleading generalization — she used the term “per capita” when reference the crime guns from that come to New York from Vermont, no one does that. It was a deliberate misrepresentation to attack Sanders.
At first, she dodged the question, and then said, “Well, the facts are that most of the guns that end up committing crimes in New York come from out of state. They come from the states that don’t have kind of serious efforts to control guns that we do in New York.”
As Sanders noted in his response, Clinton’s statement was “refuted by the governor of the state of Vermont, who was a supporter of hers, who said, yeah, in campaigns people tend to exaggerate.”
By “exaggerate,” he should have said “lie” or at the very least, “mislead” because that’s exactly what Clinton did.