On August 30, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he could get “constructive” gun control passed because he represents a state where there’s almost none.
“In fact, coming from a rural state that has almost no gun control, I think I can get beyond the noise and all of these arguments and people shouting at each other and come up with real constructive gun control legislation which, most significantly, gets guns out of the hands of people who should not have them,” said Sanders.
The part about gun politics in his state is true. While most of the liberal Northeast is anti-gun, Vermont is a constitutional carry state. There is no permit process for open or concealed carry. For lack of a better term, constitutional carry states are a gun owner’s (or anyone who believes in freedom) paradise.
Nevertheless, Sanders’ support for some pro-Second Amendment legislation, like the wonderful* Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005, has drawn the ire of some of the Democratic Party’s more gung-ho anti-gun advocates. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act protects gun manufacturers from lawsuits, where their firearms were used, unwillingly and unknowingly, in felonious activities. Democratic Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has hit Sanders for his record on Second Amendment rights, calling the Vermont Senator’s record “anathema to my own.”
Sanders still supports expanded background checks and banning so-called assault weapons, which probably explains his D- rating with the National Rifle Association.
While Sanders and Second Amendment advocates would probably leave a debate table not having changed their minds by the other’s arguments, Sanders does understand the cultural divide in this debate. It’s the rural/urban divide that’s firmly entrenched, and a reason why gun control advocates consistently lose in their campaigns to erode Second Amendment freedoms. Democrats need to understand that 30 percent of their supporters are law-abiding gun owners. Having wealthy, urban-based elites deride gun owners as country bumpkins doesn’t help their cause.
Hillary Clinton has said she would take on this issue, touting off some points at a campaign stop in Iowa last week, which included expanding background checks and alluded to waiting periods; the latter of which has zero statistical evidence proving that it curbs gun violence.
Again, given how Congress will probably look after 2016, the Republicans will most likely maintain their majority in the House. It’s a toss-up about the Senate, but the House alone will probably spell legislative doom for any new regulations on firearms in the country.
So, while Sanders may understand the cultural ties within the gun control debate, there has to be a time that he, and the rest of party, comes to the realization that his side has lost this debate. That’s not to say it can shift.
This is America; public opinion changes often, but it’s the Second Amendment supporters who have the political organization, the passion, and the will to continue fighting for their constitutional rights. The gun control crowd doesn’t have any of that going for them.
Lastly, Bernie has zero regrets voting for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005. So, he’s certainly not letting Everytown dictate his position on at least some aspects of gun politics that end up supporting our side.
*Yes, I'm a biased and staunch defender of the Second Amendment.