Bernie Sanders represents Vermont, the freest state in the union where firearms are concerned. So it shouldn’t be surprising that his record on guns is not as liberal as most national Democrats’. At the same time, some have exaggerated his support for the Second Amendment. While it is true that the NRA supported Sanders in his 1990 House race, his record since entering Congress has been mixed.
But one of his pro-gun votes was in favor of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which shields manufacturers from civil liability when guns function properly. Now that he is running for president, Sanders is tacking to the left on the one issue where he does not already hold down his party’s port flank. Thus, on Meet the Press this morning, Sanders retreated on his 2005 support for the PLCAA:
That was a complicated vote and I’m willing to see changes in that provision. Here’s the reason I voted the way I voted: If you are a gun shop owner in Vermont and you sell somebody a gun and that person flips out and then kills somebody, I don’t think it’s really fair to hold that person responsible, the gun shop owner.
On the other hand, where there is a problem is there is evidence that manufacturers, gun manufacturers, do know that they’re selling a whole lot of guns in an area that really should not be buying that many guns. That many of those guns are going to other areas, probably for criminal purposes. So can we take another look at that liability issue? Yes.
What on Earth does that mean? In the first place, most guns are not sold directly by manufacturers, they are sold through dealers and chain stores. Moreover, a manufacturer has no way at all to know how many guns other manufacturers are selling in a particular area. Therefore, there is no way for a manufacturer to judge whether “they’re selling a whole lot of guns in an area that really should not be buying that many guns.”
Sanders’ idea is, any event, fatuous. Subjecting a firearms manufacturer to liability on the ground that it sold too many guns in an area that “really should not be buying that many guns,” giving rise to an inference that “many of those guns are going to other areas, probably for criminal purposes,” makes no sense. Forcing gun companies to impose geographic quotas on sales isn’t a serious proposal, it is merely a way for Bernie to signal Democratic voters that he is willing to change his stripes on guns, once he is no longer subject to the will of Vermont voters. He is, in other words, a typical Democratic Party hypocrite.
UPDATE: Frankly, this isn’t much of an update, as it has little or nothing to do with the post. But since I went to a gun range today and also wrote about gun rights, here is a progress report. I shot this pattern with my Armalite AR-24, a full-sized pistol, at distances ranging from 17 to 22 feet:
That isn’t noteworthy shooting at that distance with a 5″ barrel and a pistol constructed out of forged steel, but still, it’s fun to blow a big hole in the bulls eye, even if you’re a rank amateur. Fun which a lot of people on America’s left would love to ban.