Sanders Criticized for Stance on Suit Against Gun Company

Sen. Bernie Sanders says gun manufacturers should not be held responsible for what people do with their legally sold products.

As more primaries topple to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who yesterday won the Wisconsin Democratic presidential primary, one of the country’s largest tabloids, among others, has taken offense to Sanders’ logical stance on calls for gun manufacturers to be held accountable for what people do with the products they make.

The New York Daily News ran the headline: "Bernie's Sandy Hook shame - Callously defends gunmakers against Newtown kin lawsuit" on today's edition.

With just a week until New York’s Democratic primary, gun issues are expected to be a hot topic in decidedly anti-gun New York.

Family members of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have brought a suit against the makers of the Bushmaster AR rifle used in the attack. The families say they can sue the company because "it knew the AR-15 rifle was unsuitable for civilian use when it was marketed."

Regardless of whether or not the families’ claim is true, Freedom Group, the parent company of Bushmaster, says the decade-old Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act prevents gun manufacturers from being held liable for crimes committed with the products they make.

This story from CBSnews says Sanders voted in favor of that 2005 legislation—a vote for which Clinton has heavily criticized him.

Sanders said in an interview with the Daily News, “No, I don’t” believe that the victims of gun violence should have the ability to sue the gun manufacturer.

“In the same sense that if you’re a gun dealer and you sell me a gun and I go out and I kill him…Do I think that that gun dealer should be sued for selling me a legal product that he misused?”

According to the story, Sanders shook his head and continued: "But I do believe that gun manufacturers and gun dealers should be able to be sued when they know that guns are going into the hands of wrong people."

In a rather bizarre statement, Connecticut Gov. Gov. Dan Malloy said Sanders was “just wrong” on firearms.

"He is dead wrong on guns," said Malloy, a Democrat. "He had an opportunity to educate the people of Vermont about guns. Vermont is small enough that he could have gone house to house to educate people about guns."

Vermont's nearly 700,000 residents currently enjoy constitutional carry.

This story from theguardian.com says that Sanders called the suit "a backdoor way" of banning so-called "assault weapons."

Sanders’ voting record has not always been favorable toward guns, and he supported gun control legislation after the Sandy Hook shootings. Spokesman Michael Briggs said in the story that Sanders “may well have lost his first campaign for Congress in 1988 because he supported a ban on assault weapons.”

"The senator has a well-deserved D-rating from the NRA, while Secretary Clinton takes campaign cash from NRA lobbyists," Briggs wrote.

“’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?’ Sanders said at the 6 March Democratic debate. ’If that is the point, I have to tell you I disagree.’

“He added: ‘If they understand that they’re selling guns into an area that – it’s getting into the hands of criminals, of course they should be held liable. But if they are selling a product to a person who buys it legally, what you’re really talking about is ending gun manufacturing in America.’

“The next day, the National Rifle Association hailed Sanders’ comment, calling it ‘spot-on.’”