Bernie Sanders: Anti-Gunners "Don't Understand"

Sen. Bernie Sanders
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 16: Senate Budget Committee ranking member Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. holds a news conference on the budget on Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)Bill Clark

With President Obama and the Republican presidential candidates dominating most of the media coverage of the gun debate, this story from CBS News reveals something about Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders that a lot of gun owners might not know: He seems to actually understand gun culture.

Sanders, who has often been criticized for a "mixed record" on gun control, was asked in a recent interview on "Face the Nation" with John Dickerson what liberals who support stricter gun laws don't understand about gun culture.

"Maybe some of them don't understand that in a rural state - not just Vermont, not just New Hampshire, but all over this country - you have husbands and wives and kids who go out and they hunt," Sanders said in the interview. "And it is a way of life in my state. A majority of the people in my state own guns."

The "vast majority, 99.9 percent of gun owners, are not criminals," he continued. "They don't use their guns in illegal ways. And I think it's important to understand. You know? That some folks, you know, maybe in New York City sit around and they, you know, drink fancy wine and very expensive restaurants and so forth. Other people go out into the countryside and they enjoy that environment. It's part of our way of life. And that should be respected."

Dickerson pointed out that the monstrous growth in gun sales in recent years are not driven solely by hunters.

"No, that's right. There's no question about it," Sanders responded. "I think there's a lot of fear in this country. You know, what we saw in San Bernardino touched a lot of people. But look, I would say, look, no question, when you have 30,000 people a year who are killed as a result of guns, many suicides but we've seen these terrible mass murders. You know what? It is a very important issue."

Sanders went on to say he has a D-minus rating from the NRA, as he has voted to strengthen and expand instant background checks, do away with the so-called "gun show loophole" and to ban "assault-type weapons." However, he said "I now believe that we have to move very vigorously in terms of this straw-man situation where people are buying guns legally and then selling them to criminals."