“What we need as a nation is to get beyond the shouting. Some people want to ban every gun in America and some people believe in nothing at all.”
As President Obama calls for increased gun legislation in the wake of the Umpqua College shooting, progressive presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held his tongue.
The democratic socialist from Vermont who has made a stir in 2016 for pushing the Democratic field to the far left on a variety of issues stands to the right of the field on the issue of gun control.
“You can sit there and say we should do this and do that, but you got a lot of states in this country where people want virtually no gun control at all. And if we are going to have some success we are going to have to start talking to each other,” Sanders said in an interview immediately following the shooting. “Stop the shouting and lets work together to do something that’s realistic,” he added.
Sanders comes from Vermont, a state with lenient gun restrictions and low crime, where many residents own guns for protective or hunting purposes. The state allows for open carry of firearms and doesn’t ban assault weapons, but the senator has said he believes that even the gun owners of Vermont are willing to come together and help create “serious gun control legislation.”
On the campaign trail and in media interviews, he frequently reminds voters that Vermont is a rural state, and unlike in urban areas, the people of Vermont rely on guns a bit more in everyday life.
In 1993 Sanders opposed the Brady Bill, which required background checks and a five-day waiting period for most gun purchases. Sanders had at least the tacit support of the National Rifle Association when he was first elected to Congress in 1990, beating a pro-gun control Republican incumbent.
“What we need as a nation is to get beyond the shouting. Some people want to ban every gun in America and some people believe in nothing at all. I think the vast majority of the American people, including gun owners, and many people in Vermont, want sensible gun control,” Sanders said in the same interview following the Oregon shooting.
Sanders has frequently voted for gun control and currently has an “F” rating from the NRA. He is also an advocate for further mental health background checks on those who choose to buy firearms, as well as upping our mental healthcare nationwide.
Immediately after Thursday’s shooting, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton focused her efforts on eliminating gun violence through a “national movement” to increase gun control. She said “the NRA has stood in the way for too long.”
“I’m going to make this a voting issue,” Clinton said hours after the shooting. “Because what the NRA does in their single-minded, absolutist theology about the Second Amendment being sacrosanct, when we know that every constitutional right and amendment can be tailored in an appropriate way without breaching the Constitution, but what they do is to so intimidate and scare legislators because they make it into a single issue for voting.”
In President Obama’s address to the nation directly following the shootings, he called for similar “common sense” legislation. So far, the only major Democrat to criticize Sanders on gun control is Martin O’Malley, who has yet to gain any traction in his bid for the presidency.
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