Posted: 10/05/15 13:38
by Dave Mindeman
The Democratic choice between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is a tough one. (I'll leave Joe Biden out of the discussion...for now). On a purely liberal and progressive viewpoint, Bernie has a lot more to offer. He is clear on his opposition to the TPP. He has a no excuses critique of the big banks. He has a clear message on income inequality. And his message has never wavered over the years.
On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has been a bit late to the table on several issues. Gay rights, the Keystone XL pipeline, and she is still a bit ambiguous about the TPP. But although, she may have been late, her voice has clarity now and she makes a strong case for electability.
Given all that, there is one issue emerging that has a clear distinction between the two. And that is guns.
Hillary Clinton has never shied away from this issue. In the wake of the Oregon tragedy, she has come out boldly with an agenda that speaks to the victims of gun violence and takes on the NRA directly.
Clinton has made strengthening gun laws a centerpiece of her presidential campaign, vowing she would use her executive power as president to expand background checks for sellers at gun shows and online and back legislation banning domestic abusers from purchasing guns.
Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has a mixed record on this issue. He explains this by pointing out that Vermont is an outdoor hunting state and he has to reflect his constituents.
While Sanders has wooed the Democratic base with his liberal positions on issues like income inequality and college debt, he's struggled to defend a more mixed record on gun legislation -- a reflection, he says, of his rural, gun-friendly home-state.
Except Bernie is no longer running to represent Vermont. He wants to be President of the United States and the gun lobby must be confronted directly and firmly. In this area, Bernie needs to change.
After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2013, Sanders backed all the Democratic gun bills brought up in Congress. But in 1993, he voted against the landmark Brady handgun bill, which imposed a five-day waiting period for gun purchasers, and he backed the 2005 legislation granting legal immunity to many in the gun industry.
That last point about "legal immunity" for the gun manufacturers is the key one. Hillary Clinton has made a direct call for a repeal of that bill which prohibits lawsuits against the gun "cartel". The only way we can make true significant progress on guns in this country is to make the gun manufacturers more accountable. We did it with big tobacco....we can do it with the gun lobby.
Bernie Sanders needs to reassess his position on this important issue. This isn't about hunting and fishing, this is about citizen safety....and doing the right thing.
This will be an important topic in the Democratic debate. Hillary and Bernie will be defending their positions. We need to listen carefully.