Election 2020

Clinton Hammers Sanders on Gun Liability with Shooting Victims' Families

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he’s standing by his position on gun liability despite Hillary Clinton’s campaign trying to hammer him at every turn, charging he’s insensitive to the victims of mass shootings.

Clinton has held media calls with family members of some of those killed in the Newtown school massacre, accusing Sanders of pandering to gun manufacturers.

“He doesn’t know the pain that my family has been going through since December 14, 2012,” Jillian Soto, whose sister Victoria Soto was a first-grade teacher killed at Sandy Hook, said of Sanders on a Clinton campaign call earlier this month.

In a press conference soon afterward on the steps of City Hall in New York City, gun-control advocates criticized Sanders’ interview to the New York Daily News editorial board. “Do I think the victims of a crime with a gun should be able to sue the manufacturer, is that your question?” the senator said during the Q&A. “No, I don’t.”

Erica Lafferty Smegielski, whose late mother Dawn Hochsprung was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary, said Sanders needed “to apologize for the devastating impact that your vote had on our families” — a 2005 vote limiting liability for gun manufacturers. Clinton’s campaign distributed audio of the full press conference.

After a Connecticut judge ruled last week that a lawsuit from the Sandy Hook families against the maker of the AR-15 can proceed, Clinton brought up Sanders’ vote. “Unfortunately, PLCAA – the sweeping immunity law that protects gun manufacturers and dealers – still remains a major obstacle for these families and others seeking to hold these gun companies accountable,” she said in a statement. “That is why, as president, I would lead the charge to repeal this law. Nothing can make these families whole again after losing their children and loved ones in Sandy Hook, but they deserve a president who will fight for them, and I am committed to doing just that.”

Monday morning on CNN, Sanders said the families can sue if they wish, as they are.

“Within a broader context. Do I think somebody should be held liable, is what I said, for selling a legal product?” he said. “…If I sell you a legal product, do I — am I liable for the crazy thing that you do with it? I think not.”

“But should somebody have the right to sue? Anybody can sue for any reason. We’ll see how the courts react to that suit.”