Photo by Gage Skidmore courtesy of Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) won the Democratic primary in his neighboring state of New Hampshire by a slim margin. This victory came after some of his previous positions on your Second Amendment rights were used against him during a Democratic debate in the state on Friday, Feb. 7.
When asked about his previous votes in favor of gun rights during the 1990s, Sanders said, “The world has changed and my views have changed, and my view is right now we need universal background checks.”
In reality, Sanders has done more than simply “change” his views.
Not missing the chance to potentially score points from Sanders’ past, former Vice President Joe Biden—who finished fifth in the New Hampshire primary—attacked the senator from Vermont’s support of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which Sanders voted for in 2005 while he was in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Sanders, in fact, made the case for the PLCAA in a Democratic primary debate in March 2016. “Well, this is what I say, if I understand it — and correct me if I’m wrong. If you go to a gun store and you legally purchase a gun, and then, three days later, if you go out and start killing people, is the point of this lawsuit to hold the gun shop owner or the manufacturer of that gun liable? If that is the point, I have to tell you I disagree. … what you’re really talking about is ending gun manufacturing in America. I don’t agree with that,” said Sanders.
Though he now promises “universal background checks,” this wasn’t always Sanders public view on the issue. Throughout the 1990’s, he repeatedly voted against increased background checks at the federal level.
Beyond that, Sanders previously stated that gun rights are an issue best handled at the state level. As recently as 2012, Sanders said, “In my view, decisions about gun control should be made as close to home as possible – at the state level. If the Vermont Legislature and the governor want to go forward with gun control they have the opportunity to do that, though I’m not aware there is any great inclination in Vermont to do so.”
The senator from Vermont’s about-face on your Second Amendment rights may well be political opportunism amidst an increasingly hostile opposition to gun ownership in America, however, no gun owner should believe he is an ally in any way.
His campaign website now promises to pass “common sense gun safety legislation that the overwhelming majority of Americans want.” This includes promises to expand background checks, ban the most commonly owned rifles in the country, which Sanders labels as “assault weapons” and “tools of war,” and much more.
Sanders fails to recognize that millions of Americans literally take their constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment rights into their own hands each and every day. As a politician from Vermont, he should be aware that an armed populace is a safe populace. He should understand the basis of the freedom he enjoys in this great nation. Unfortunately, he has shown he is nothing but an opportunistic politician who will turn against our freedom if a radical part of his party demands it.