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).