Labeling Bernie Sanders as pro-gun or pro-NRA has been the biggest smear job of the Democratic Campaign

Hillary Clinton has not been honest when it comes to Bernie Sanders’ position on guns. In fact, it’s quite ironic that Hillary and her supporters claim Bernie has been smearing her record, when in fact it is the Hillary team pulling one of the biggest smears in this primary. They have been trying to cast Bernie as this rabidly pro-gun NRA politician that he is not.

Hillary’s smear against Bernie, that somehow he is extremely pro-gun in comparison to Hillary, is a complicated issue, but it is a complete distortion to say that Bernie is “pro-gun” or that somehow he is a shill for the NRA. Bernie’s record on guns is not exactly favorable with gun nuts, as the record shows.

Bernie receives a D- rating from the NRA, and if I’m not mistaken, that would mean the NRA is not all that loving of Bernie’s positions on guns. Bernie has not been rabidly pro-gun during his career. Granted Bernie hasn’t devoted much of his career to the gun issue, more or less because he was more focused on money in politics and social justice, but he certainly hasn’t been actively advancing pro-NRA policies.

There are a couple of areas where the Hillary camp has tried to cast doubt on Bernie’s gun record. The first is a vote that Bernie made against a bill that would have allowed victims of gun violence and their families to sue gun manufacturers for damages in cases where their guns are used in such criminal instances. Yes, Bernie voted against the bill, but this isn’t the whole story.

Bernie voted against a bill because the bill would have allowed victims to sue gun sellers if their guns were used in criminal action, even if the person who used the gun passed a background check and the sale was completely legal. Essentially it would allow people to sue gun shops for selling a legal product, which even if the gun was used criminally the sale itself was completely legal. This opens a floodgate of loopholes, which Bernie is against. You shouldn’t be able to sue someone for selling a legal product even if the product was used criminally. Unless you can prove the product was sold illegally and with a directly malicious purpose, it seems wrong to sue someone for selling a legal product that went through the proper channels.

Bernie’s real position, though, is that you should sue gun manufacturers and sellers if they purposefully sell guns without proper legal channels. Bernie has even said he believes we should ban assault rifles and high capacity magazines. Bernie doesn’t believe you should sue gun makers and sellers for selling a legal product, yet he wants to make those weapons illegal in the first place. To say that is a pro-NRA is absolutely ludicrous.

This is important, because Hillary has been using Bernie’s vote to make the case that he doesn’t care about the children and families who were victimized in Newtown. And Hillary supporters want to talk about smears? That is by far the worst smear I’ve heard on the Democratic side in this primary. To say Bernie doesn’t care about the kids in Newtown is deplorable, and blatantly untrue. The worst part is, Hillary knows it’s not true, which makes it all that worse. Desperate times call for desperate measures I suppose.

Another aspect of this smear is somehow Bernie is indirectly responsible for the gun violence in New York. Of course New York’s primary comes up next Tuesday, so the heat is on. Yet, it is blatantly untrue that Bernie is somehow connected to the gun violence in New York. The Hillary logic is that Vermont, Bernie’s home state, has more guns per capita in the Northeast and that much of those guns are trafficked into New York where they are used in violent crimes. Yes, it is true New York does have much of its gun violence associated with guns trafficked from out of state due to strict gun laws.

Very few of those guns originated from Vermont, however. In fact most of the guns illegally trafficked into New York came from states like Georgia, Virginia, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Those are states with more lax gun laws, and three out of four of those states voted for Hillary during the primary season. Vermont is the smallest on the list when it comes to guns trafficked into New York.

It is a blatant lie that Bernie is quasi-responsible for gun violence in New York. This is a classic smear if ever there were one. It’s ironic too, because Hillary doesn’t have the best record ever when it comes to guns. In fact, she has her gray areas too.

Hillary, while making her stance on guns a focal point of her contrast with Bernie, actually has an NRA lobbyist raising money for her. Anyone remember 2008? Anyone remember that Hillary actually ran in the primary against Obama on a more pro-gun record because Obama made the “guns and religion” remark? This is all true, which isn’t necessarily a squeaky clean record on guns.

It’s absurd to say that Bernie has been pro-gun or pro-NRA, when his record has little to show for that. He voted his conscience on one bill that in no way signaled a pro-NRA stance. In no way am I saying Hillary is pro-NRA, but it is blatantly false to insinuate that Bernie is as well.


  1. Hillary is scared. She was supposed to win in a walk. She has the support of the party pros, Wall Street and big media. She never considered that by winning that support she lost a lot of support from voters.
    So, she is afraid, and lashing out desperately.

  2. Disagree and disgusted. You are obviously parroting Bernie’s comments every time he gets a chance on this subject. One should be allowed to sue a gun manufacturer period whatever the circumstances.

    • So if someone goes and buys a chainsaw from Walmart, and someone goes and murders someone with that chainsaw, does that mean the family of the victim can sue the Walmart or the chainsaw manufacturer? I understand guns are made specifically to kill, but the gun is still a legal product and if the buyer passed a background check then how could the store or manufacturer be liable for a product they sold legally? It opens a giant loophole. Bernie’s position is to make assault rifles illegal, rather than giving people the ability to sue for selling a legal product in an unfortunately legal way. I agree Hillary has a better record on guns than Bernie. My response to that would be, however, what’s Hillary’s excuse on everything else?

      • I couldn’t agree more that Hillary is using Bernie’s vote per lawsuits to smear his general record on gun control. Though, to be fair, the lawsuit talked about by the Sandy Hook parents is far more nuanced and, in the end, pointed at manufacturers and even the gun lobby more than individual sellers. It’s just another example of politicians distorting/exaggerating the implications of their opponents’ records. Hillary does it. Bernie does it. They all do it. Unfortunately, we are at the point where the lack of critical distance among voters means that “everybody does it but my candidate.” Or, just as bad, at the point where saying that “they all do it,” though true, just reinforces the cynicism of folks like me. For me, there are no longer any “best” candidates. There are only “hopefully better than the rest” candidates.

        Your last sentence is interesting. It is an example of the uncritical approach to policy and voting records that is seemingly endemic to voters and, to the extent that it has become a symbol of fealty among Sanders supporters, hurts that movement with, again, cynical folks like me. To imply that Bernie’s policy and voting record—except on guns—is universally better than Hillary’s is absurd. He has a bumper sticker policy per the financial sector—Break Up The Big Banks—and, amazingly to some, has shown no interest in fine-tuning his economic policies or his policies which would have enormous implications for the economy. Hillary is right about shadow banking, which was a far bigger culprit—and builds a lot more mansions in the Hamptons—than the Big Banks. Bernie has no interest in talking about shadow banking, which allows those who know a bit about the financial sector to more easily write him off. Neither does he have any interest in talking about the economic/legal issues involved in breaking up the Big Banks—economic/legal issues whose implications extend down to local communities like mine. And he has shown no interest in pushing regulatory policies other than Glass-Steagall (a good start, but won’t get done what he thinks it would get done) that would slim down the Big Banks, make them far less available to risky behavior (which small banks are equally available to) and yet avoid the very real consequences that would follow his present, rather nebulous plan.

        Bernie was not born to a virgin named Mary in a Bethlehem stable. Angels and shepherds did not laud his coming by singing in the fields and Kings from the East did not flee because an angel advised them that he would be an advocate for the poor and a terror to the 1%. In other words, Bernie is not without sin and he has not come to save us. So to speak.

        Let me add, before the haters start hating, that I like Bernie. He is flawed, like all politicians. I wouldn’t want to sit down and have a drink with him—way too prickly for me. He’s not much liked by his peers and has little or no record of helping Democrats at either the national, state or local levels—which can hurt you when you’re trying to get legislation passed. But he is the only candidate who actually has a real, bona-fide vision and, detail-flawed/overwrought as it is, it is an exciting vision. I won’t vote for him. But I like him.

        One issue remains confusing to me, though, and I am seriously asking a question that Bernie Bro’s might be able to answer. Why did Bernie vote against the Brady Bill five times? I’m sure there must have been, for him, a good reason. I just don’t know what it is. Any help?

        • Exactly. Why did he vote against the Brady Bill 5 times? In addition to voting against PLCAA? It is these actions—Sanders’ actual voting record—that has lead the gun violence prevention movement to turn against him.

      • You are completely misunderstanding and misrepresenting what PLCAA was about, Mr. Drury, just as Bernie Sanders does. The lawsuits that PLCAA were designed to block were not about suing the so-called “mom & pop gun stores” (the phrase itself is incongruous in the extreme, but that is another matter). They were about suing the gun manufacturing industry (a corporate monolith if there ever was one) for failing to manage its supply chain in a responsible and ethical manner. If police can trace crime guns back to a particular seller time after time, the implication is clear that the seller may very well be selling guns without proper background checks, etc. In which case the manufacturers should stop supplying them, or else be held accountable if they continue to do so. In addition,gun manufacturers were at the time flooding the market in the South with far more guns than they knew the market could bear, knowing that many of these guns would be illegally trafficked to the North, where gun laws are much stricter. PLCAA stopped these lawsuits dead in their tracks, which Bernie Sanders supported with his vote. So please do your homework and get the facts straight before accusing Clinton of distorting Sanders’ record. Mother Jones published an insightful piece on this very topic last winter. Might I suggest you read it before commenting further about Clinton distorting Sanders’ record on gun legislation?

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