Democratic presidential candidate, Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, is caught between a rock and the National Rifle Association. The Newtown Alliance, an action-based grassroots organization founded by Newtown residents in the weeks following the December 14, 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School to promote gun control, said on Tuesday it is “outraged” that Sen. Sanders doesn’t think gun manufacturers should be liable for all the harm caused by their firearms. Charles Dudley Warner once famously said: “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” Mr. Warner could have been talking about this past Sunday night’s Democratic CNN debate at the Whiting Auditorium at the Cultural Center Campus in Flint, Michigan. The cast of characters involved includes former Secretary of State, First Lady and U.S. Senator, Hillary Clinton. Also included in the trio, Independent U.S. Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. But last and most significant, the strange bedfellow, if you will, the National Rifle Association (NRA).
In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which gives gun manufacturers broad immunity from lawsuits intended to drive them out of business. Sen. Sanders voted for the bill. Hillary Clinton voted against it. Sen. Sanders defended his vote. The NRA noticed. The problem for Sen. Sanders is the NRA posted a tweet in support of a comment he made on gun industry immunity during a heated exchange in Sunday night’s Democratic debate with his rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Sen. Sanders was spot-on in his comments about gun manufacturer liability/PLCAA,” the gun lobby tweeted. The post was accompanied by a graphic of the senator’s remarks: “What you’re talking about is ending gun manufacturing in America. I don’t agree with that.
The Connecticut Mirror reported that Po Murray, chairman of the Newtown Alliance, argued that the NRA and Sen. Sanders are wrong, that the repeal of the PLCAA would not end gun manufacturing in America. “The gun industry had a vibrant manufacturing history before the PLCAA law was passed in 2005,” she said. “It’s understandable why the NRA would take on such a position, as it spent $12 million to secure the passage of the PLCAA law to protect gun industry profits, but it’s insulting that Sen. Sanders would subscribe to the same extremist views of the NRA.”
The parents of some of the first graders killed in the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and family members of other victims are suing the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15 used in the massacre. The case is considered a test of the PLCAA.
In an effort to distance itself from Sen. Sanders and Democrats, the NRA later tweeted: “Hillary & Bernie are equally bad on #2A. But on untrustworthiness on all topics, @HillaryClinton is unrivaled.”
Too late for the NRA in support of Sen. Sanders, who favors stronger background checks and a ban on many assault weapons.