Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he wants to see a “Medicare for all” single-payer healthcare system in America and defended gun manufacturers during a public policy forum in Arlington.
A member of the audience asked Sanders about his stance on gun control, criticizing his vote to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits.
Sanders refused to apologize for the vote.
“If somebody has a gun and somebody steals that gun and shoots somebody, do you really think it makes sense to blame the manufacturer of that weapon?” he said. “If somebody assaults you with a baseball bat, you hit somebody over the head, you’re not going to sue the baseball bat manufacturer.”
Sanders said he voted in favor of instant background checks as well as a ban on assault weapons. He argued that the cultural war between urban and rural America over guns has prevented further progress on the issue.
“I understand that guns in my state are different than guns in Chicago and Los Angeles. I understand, and the people of my state understand, that there are people all over this country who have guns who should not have guns who are killing other people,” Sanders said.
“People in urban America have got to appreciate, and I’ve said this before but let me repeat it, that the overwhelming majority of people who hunt know about guns and respect guns and are law-abiding people. That’s the truth. And people in rural America have to understand that in urban areas, guns mean something very difficult,” he added.
Despite the implementation of Obamacare, Sanders said 35 million people remain uninsured. The healthcare law’s individual mandate requires every American to purchase health insurance or pay a fine to the IRS.
“The Affordable Care Act has done a lot of good things but we still have 35 million Americans with zero insurance and we have even more who are underinsured with large co-payments and large deductibles,” Sanders said. “The Republican solution to that problem was to throw 27 million more Americans off of health insurance.”
Sanders said businesses around the country are spending an enormous amount of money trying to figure out the most cost-effective way to offer health insurance to their employees.
“Well, you know what, I’ll give you a radical thought here. Your employer should not be providing healthcare to you. It should be a right,” he told an audience member.
Sanders also called for a $15 minimum wage and free tuition at public and private universities.
“We have the highest rate, shamefully, of poverty of any major industrialized country on earth,” he said. “Over half of the children in America in public schools are so low income they are now on free or reduced lunch programs.”
Sanders recently introduced the “College for All Act,” which would eliminate tuition at America’s colleges and universities.
Sanders slammed GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush and his super PAC for raising $114 million, arguing that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision should be overturned.
“This money is clearly coming from the wealthiest people in this country, which raises the profound issue of this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision,” he said. “It is no accident that Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates who take huge amounts of money from the wealthy and the powerful come up with an agenda that represents the wealthy and the powerful.”