The PJ Tatler

Liberals Discover That Vermont's Sanders Is, Well, Liberal on Guns

Apparently, it’s just come a shock to the folks over at Slate to learn that, when it comes to guns, Vermont, is one of the most liberal in the nation. Which is to say, it has almost no restrictions on firearms. Naturally, they’re hysterical:

When Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders jumped into the 2016 presidential race, he was widely hailed as a far-left socialist who would appeal to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. A liberal challenge to Hillary Clinton, said Politico. True progressives’ liberal alternative, trumpeted FiveThirtyEight. But before liberal Democrats flock to Sanders, they should remember that the Vermont senator stands firmly to Clinton’s right on one issue of overwhelming importance to the Democratic base: gun control. During his time in Congress, Sanders opposed several moderate gun control bills. He also supported the most odious NRA–backed law in recent memory—one that may block Sandy Hook families from winning a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the gun used to massacre their children.

Sanders, an economic populist and middle-class pugilist, doesn’t talk much about guns on the campaign trail. But his voting record paints the picture of a legislator who is both skeptical of gun control and invested in the interests of gun owners—and manufacturers. In 1993, then-Rep. Sanders voted against the Brady Act, which mandated federal background checks for gun purchasers and restricted felons’ access to firearms. As a senator, Sanders supported bills to allow firearms in checked bags on Amtrak trains and block funding to any foreign aid organization that registered or taxed Americans’ guns. Sanders is dubious that gun control could help prevent gun violence, telling one interviewer after Sandy Hook that “if you passed the strongest gun control legislation tomorrow, I don’t think it will have a profound effect on the tragedies we have seen.” (He has since endorsed some modest gun control measures.)

None of these views are particularly shocking for a Vermont representative: Sanders’ deep-blue state has both high gun ownership and incredibly lax gun laws, and it’s perfectly logical for the senator to support his constituents’ firearms enthusiasm. And a close friend of Sanders once said that the senator “thinks there’s an elitism in the anti-gun movement.”

But Sanders’ vote for a different kind of pro-gun bill is more puzzling—and profoundly disturbing. In 2005, a Republican-dominated Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). This law doesn’t protect gun owners; it protects gun manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers. The PLCAA was the No. 1 legislative priority of the National Rifle Association for years, because it shields gun makers and dealers from most liability when their firearms are used criminally. It is one of the most noxious pieces of pro-gun legislation ever passed. And Bernie Sanders voted for it. (Sanders’ campaign has not replied to a request for comment.)

Blah, blah, blah. The act in question merely immunizes gun manufacturers — an industry historically central to New England’s prosperity and one protected by the constitution — from idiotic, ruinous lawsuits by anti-gun Leftists. The rest of this piece is a typically ignorant rant about firearms written by somebody who obviously doesn’t know the first thing about them, which is why people have them: to protect themselves, not to murder other people. But leave it to the Left to attribute only the basest of motives to its political enemies, like us.