The Daily Bern: Sanders on Guns and Gun Control

Bernie SandersAs the presidential campaign continues, we need to remember: There is no perfect candidate. That sentiment is particularly true in light of Christopher Harper-Mercer’s Oct. 1 shooting rampage in Oregon that left nine dead at Umpqua Community College.

From my perspective, anyone who wants to be president of a country held hostage by constant mass shootings should be sounding the alarm for increased gun control.

One candidate proposes keeping guns away from people convicted of domestic abuse, making stricter laws for gun show sales, closing the notorious “Charleston loophole” that allows thousands to purchase weapons without undergoing background checks, and repealing a law that absolves gun manufacturers from legal consequences.

That candidate is not Sen. Bernie Sanders. It’s Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Another candidate calls for a national firearms registry, a ban on assault-weapon sales, mandated fingerprinting and licensing for those who purchase guns, imposing a minimum age of 21 for gun ownership, and more.

That isn’t Sanders either. It’s Martin O’Malley.

Both Democratic frontrunner Clinton and former Maryland governor O’Malley are calling Sanders out about his stance on guns. Rightly so, because on this issue, the One True Progressive Candidate who calls himself a Democrat is a disappointment.

Sanders has spent his entire political career speaking truth to power in an effort to represent We The People. Yet he voted against the pro-gun control Brady Bill numerous times. He supported allowing guns in packed baggage on Amtrak trains. He has both left-leaning Slate and right-wing calling him a “gun nut.” That characterization is unfair: Sanders is opposed to permitting the sale of assault weapons. After the Oregon shooting last week, he spoke out in favor of universal background checks. And his campaign says his gun-related votes are motivated by his Senate job representing Vermont, a pro-hunting state. So, let’s not conflate Bernie with National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre. But Sanders’ positioning on gun control is disappointing, in that he has placed himself in the middle ground. The moderate position is just not compatible with progressivism.

From the New York Times:

After the mass shooting at a movie theater in Colorado, Senator Bernie Sanders said that gun control was a matter best left resolved in state capitals.

In the aftermath of the massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut, Mr. Sanders voiced support for new gun control measures, but also noted that the rights of law-abiding gun owners “must be protected.”

In fact, Mr. Sanders sounded downright skeptical of the push for tighter new laws.

“If you passed the strongest gun control legislation tomorrow, I don’t think it will have a profound effect on the tragedies we have seen,” he told Seven Says, an alternative weekly in Vermont.

The NYT piece goes on to say that Sanders’ middle-ground approach to dealing with gun issues could inspire voters to question his liberal bona fides. Frankly, that’s ludicrous. Is any of us completely consistent in anything in life? Certainly not. Bernie Sanders is a complicated human being, just as we all are. And just as none of us are perfect, neither is he.

As a voter, you must decide which candidate best represents you. But whether your choice is Hillary, Bernie, O’Malley, or Green Party candidate Jill Stein, remember this: If you insist upon perfection, you won’t find any suitable candidate. Litmus tests are fine if you need them — I absolutely did and do on the issue of equality under law for all — but, as Tim Gunn says, use them thoughtfully.






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