Saturday, October 3, 2015

Bernie Sanders Makes the Most Sense on Gun Control

Senator Bernie Sanders should NOT "evolve" on this issue — especially since he won't run for re-election as a Senator for Vermont (a rural State with lots of gun owners and hunters).

Bernie should NOT say he regrets voting against the Brady Act (signed into law by Bill Clinton) — but especially for voting against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a law that doesn’t protect gun owners, but protects gun manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers from being sued.

But both the "left" and the "right" have been attacking Bernie Sanders' stand on gun control (as on other issues), but for difference reasons.

On MSNBC last week (a left-leaning cable station) host Chris Hayes pressed him on why he voted against the Brady Bill — and for voting against allowing victims to file lawsuits against gun manufacturers in the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). Bernie responded:

“I don’t know that anybody knows what the magic solution is. What we do know is the current situation is not tenable. It is clearly not working. And as the president indicated, we can and must do a lot better ... You can sit there and say I think we should do this and do that. But you’ve got a whole lot of states in this country where people want virtually no gun control at all. And if we are going to have some success, we are going to have to start talking to each other.”

The Slate (a left leaning website) wrote:

"Several liberal congressional representatives have recently spoken out against the PLCAA, and if Democrats retake both houses of Congress, they may make repealing the law a priority. Hillary Clinton, who voted against the act as a senator, would almost certainly sign a repeal bill. Would a President Bernie Sanders? Until he says otherwise, we have every reason to believe the ostensible progressive hero would stand behind the vile legislation he championed just a decade ago."

The Daily Beast (which portrays itself as "centrist", but is more conservative) mentions another response by Bernie:

"If somebody has a gun and it falls into the hands of a murderer and the murderer kills somebody with a gun, do you hold the gun manufacturer responsible?” he said to Jake Tapper on CNN. “Not any more than you would hold a hammer company responsible if somebody beats somebody over the head with a hammer.”

The NPR headline says: "The Last Thing Bernie Sanders Needs Right Now Is A Conversation About Guns" — But despite the title, this is an article that shows that Bernie actually makes the most sense on this issue. From a comment I left at NPR:

As "senator" Sanders from the State of Vermont, it was his job to vote on behalf of the majority of his constituents. As "president" Sanders he wouldn't even have the option of signing a gun control bill into law unless a majority in Congress had first passed it.

But even so, Bernie was right: Just as with automakers, a gun manufacturer (and dealer) should not be sued unless they knowingly or negligently manufactured and/or sold a gun that was defective and dangerous (or if they broke a law, like selling to a minor) — and they should not be sued just because the product might have been used illegally by an individual.

If someone runs over another person with a Ford, should the automaker or auto dealer be sued? If someone smothers another person with a pillow, should the pillow maker or J.C. Penny be sued?

If anything, maybe some restrictions should be placed on them in the way they sometimes market firearms.

If a national database is set up for instant background checks — to include escaped convicts, those wanted on outstanding warrants, those convicted of domestic abuse or for crimes committed with a firearm, or those with a history of mental illness (such as those diagnosed for schizophrenia, etc.) — that would not be overly intrusive to 2nd Amendment advocates, firearm dealers and gun manufactures. Closing the gun show "loophole" for the private transfer of a firearm to another might also be a sensible position (but only for the sell of automatic weapons and handguns — not for hunting rifles, such as those passed down from a father to son).

The Brady bill excluded firearm transfers by unlicensed private sellers that are not engaged in the business of dealing firearms, but may be covered under other federal, state, and local restrictions. That's why Bernie voted against this bill:

"I voted to ban certain types of semiautomatic weapons. I voted to eliminate this gun show loophole which allows people to purchase guns without a background check." [Sometimes a member of Congress votes, not for what's IN a particular bill, but sometimes for what's NOT in a bill. We see this all the time.]

Bernie Sanders got a "D Minus" from the NRA. He ran afoul of the organization in 1994, when he voted for a bill that would have banned 19 varieties of semiautomatic assault weapons. In 2013, he voted for an expansive ban on assault weapons and came out in favor of universal background checks.

So Bernie should not "evolve" on his positions of gun ownership, but stand fast — but maybe just better explain his reasoning. He’ll probably be asked at the first debate because of recent events.

But maybe lobbyists such as ALEC and the NRA should NOT be able to lobby on behalf gun manufacturers — because we have enough guns, and using scare tactics (with the help from conservative radio shows) to artificially boot the demand for more guns (to increase profits) is just plain wrong.

Quote of the Day (by Michael Thornton): "And all the guns in the world won’t be of much value if the government decides to cut off your communication, freezes your bank account and closes roads and bridges. The First Amendment is the first for a reason. It is more effective and less bloody than the Second Amendment options....."

But it is odd that not just the "left wing" media, but the "right wing" media (who supports no gun control at all) is also using Bernie's voting record on this issue against him. Maybe it's because, besides just "moderate" Democrats, Republicans would also hate to see Bernie elected — but not because of his opinion on gun control, but because of the other issues he stands on — such as tax reform (fixing a tax code that currently favors the very rich), breaking up the "too big to fail" banks (Hillary supporters), re-instating Glass-Seagull (that Hillary opposes*), and "free" trade agreements, like TPP, that offshores jobs (that Hillary supports).

* It was Bill Clinton's abolition of Glass-Steagall that paved the way for Hillary to run for Senator from New York (Wall Street). Bill denies that there was any quid pro quo...but then again, he also denied that he "had sex with that woman".

Of course, the "right wing" media also bashes Hillary's past stand on gun control too, because they would prefer a Republican as President — who, not only wants NO gun control at all, but also wants to cut taxes for the rich, offshore more jobs for cheap labor, cut government regulation and cut government spending on social programs (but also increases defense spending, but without saying how to pay for it).


  1. UPDATE:

    Does anybody else see a pattern here?

    Once again, following in Bernie Sanders' footsteps (like she has on college tuition, same-sex marriage, the Keystone Pipeline, prescription drug prices, the Cadillac Tax on healthcare plans (etc), now Hillary Clinton says she would impose stricter controls on sales at gun shows. During her presidential campaign she has JUST STARTED advocating on behalf of issues that Bernie Sanders has been doing for years, sometimes for decades.

  2. UPDATE:

    Stephen Colbert offered an impassioned monologue about the Oregon shooting at the top of his show. He said he does not know the solution, but: “One of the definitions of insanity is changing nothing and then pretending that something will change.”

    Watch the 8-minute monologue at YouTube:

  3. UPDATE: (Now I'm getting a little pissed.)

    Obama suggests that if you want stronger gun control laws, you will have to be a single-issue voter (and forget about all other things, like jobs going overseas or more tax cuts for the rich).

    Yes, "moderate" Democrats (and Republicans) would love us to forget everything else, and just focus on and vote on single issues: like gun control or some other wedge issue, such as abortion.

    The Nation writes: "If Democrats listen to Obama, that could be bad news for Bernie Sanders" — because Bernie voted against the Brady Bill and he voted against suing gun manufacturers for the illegal use of their guns. But The Nation worded it like this: "Voting for NRA-backed bills granting gun manufacturers legal immunity against claims by gun victims."

    That is total B.S.!

    Hillary Clinton, after losing ground to Bernie in the polls, is going to attempt to use THIS ONE ISSUE to be farther to the left of Bernie --- ON THIS ONE ISSUE --- so that she can be our President and remain on the right of Bernie on ALL THE OTHER ISSUES.

    Obama says we should be a "single issue voter" if we want stronger gun control laws. But no matter who on the left is nominated (Hillary or Bernie), a Republican Congress isn't going to impose more gun control laws.

    And Bernie's stand on gun control is more reality-based than Clinton's — and also appeals to many on the right (such as background checks, etc.)

    But even if we ignored ALL THE OTHER ISSUES (such as Wall Street reform, tax reform, trade agreements, etc.) and just voted on gun control, there's still no reason why Bernie shouldn't be the Democratic nominee (or our President).

    Hillary wants to close the “Charleston loophole” in the current background-check process (that lets a gun sale proceed if the background check is not finished within three days). OK, so far.

    She promised to pursue executive action to close the "gun-show sales loophole" (such as sales between private parties rather than from licensed dealers). Doubtful, and possibly unconstitutional.

    She’ll back legislation that prohibits domestic abusers from buying and possessing firearms (I though this was already a law, or maybe just in certain States -- but reasonable.

    But she can't make these changes with just an executive order, just as Bernie can not.

    But then, going right at Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton also wants to repeal the immunity law of 2005 for gun manufacturers. Back then New York Senator Hillary Clinton voted against the law; Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders voted for it.

    That is ONE VOTE, WITH ONE STIPULATION WITHIN ONE ISSUE. Does Hillary also think we should be able to sue Ford if someone in a Ford runs her down?

    If I was running for president, maybe my ONE ISSUE might be to make everyone in America a millionaire. Would that get me elected?

  4. Bernie Sanders has cited several measures he can support, including a strengthened system of instant background checks, closure of the “gun-show loophole,” a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons “designed strictly for killing human beings” and far greater investments in mental health.

  5. New York Times:

    Bernie Sanders voiced support for new gun control measures, but also noted that the rights of law-abiding gun owners must be protected ... While Mr. Sanders has outflanked Hillary Clinton by appealing to liberals, his record on gun-related issues could be a potential vulnerability in a Democratic contest in which he is not accustomed to facing doubts about his liberal credentials ... The [SINGLE] issue is an opportunity to present [Hillary] as the most proactive Democratic candidate on gun control, and provide a contrast with Mr. Sanders, who has been gaining on her in national polls ... Sanders voted against the Brady Bill in the 1990s, requiring background checks, when he was in the House of Representatives. And in 2005, he voted in favor of a bill to shield gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits. Mrs. Clinton, then a senator from New York, voted against that bill, and is pledging to repeal it as part of her gun control plan. After the Newtown, Conn., shootings, Mr. Sanders, by then a senator, voted for expanding background checks and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines ... Mr. Sanders’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, defended the senator’s record on Monday, saying he has supported banning assault weapons and requiring background checks since he was first elected to Congress in 1990. Mr. Weaver added that Mr. Sanders opposed the Brady Bill because of the waiting period it imposed ... Sanders said his campaign was assembling a package of proposals to address gun violence. He expressed support for closing the so-called gun show loophole and for banning assault weapons, among other things ... Ann Braden, the president of Gun Sense Vermont, a group that formed after the Newtown shootings and advocates new gun laws, said Mr. Sanders’s focus on keeping guns out of the wrong hands — but not attacking the mere idea of gun ownership — was how you can actually make change.

    So then, it appears that Bernie is "mainstream" on guns.

  6. COMPARE ---------------

    Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) introduced a bill that includes closing background check loopholes for Internet and gun show sales, expanding the background check database and cracking down on the illegal gun market. They hope to expand background checks to include domestic abuse reports and prevent any gun purchases until a full background check is completed. The plan would also make it illegal for someone to buy a gun on behalf of someone else who is unable to buy a firearm legally.

    The plan is not expected to get much, if any, support from Republicans and may never receive a vote in the GOP-controlled Senate where 60 votes are needed for passage.

    Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) has already proposed legislation that would encourage states to report more information about mentally ill individuals to the federal background check database. No date has been set for further action Cornyn's less restrictive bill.

  7. President Obama is seriously considering circumventing Congress with his executive authority and imposing new background-check requirements for buyers who purchase weapons from high-volume gun dealers. Under the proposed rule change, dealers who exceed a certain number of sales each year will be required to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and perform background checks on potential buyers.”

    [* Any legislation by Democratic members of Congress will be dead on arrival in the GOP Senate. But with a GOP president in 2016, forget any gun control at at with the current Congress.]

  8. OCT 22, 2015 -- Is this Bernie Sanders' Achilles Heel?

    A new poll shows Bernie Sanders is viewed favorably by 82 percent of likely caucus-goers in Iowa.

    On one potential concern: his self-label as a “democratic socialist” — although, 81 percent are not bothered.

    However, the new poll shows Bernie is vulnerable to one corrosive criticism: Pollster J. Ann Selzer said, “Sanders has a big problem, and it’s guns, not socialism.”

    Sixty percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers say they feel less supportive of Sanders because [20 years ago as a Rep from the rural State Vermont] he had voted against the Brady Bill.

    Three-quarters of Clinton voters say Bernie's gun stances undermine their support for him — and 46 percent of Bernie's own voters agree they're troubling.

    [* My note: Expect this ONE ISSUE to be brought up by Hillary and/or the moderators at every debate. Even if the electoral college weren't packed with establishment "moderates", this ONE ISSUE could keep Bernie from being the Dem's nominee, even though this wouldn't matter at all to Republican voters in a general election.]