Sanders gun stance shifts, but is it enough?

January 10, 2016

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who has copped criticism for his positions on gun control, now appears to be open to changing a 2005 law that shields weapons manufacturers from liability – a bill he voted for.

“If you have a manufacturer that is sending guns into an area and really knows that those guns are not being used by the people or bought by the people in that area but are being sold to criminals should we hold that manufacturer liable? Absolutely,” Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday morning.

The only problem with that change? It isn’t a change to the law at all, say some gun control advocates.

Gun manufacturers can already be held liable if they know their guns are being sold to criminals. The 2005 law included an exemption for those who sell guns “knowing that such firearm will be used to commit a crime of violence,” according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Sanders campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether he thinks any changes are needed to the liability law.

But it’s an issue that is unlikely to go away for the Vermont senator anytime soon.

The 2005 law was a response to a growing number of lawsuits that were targeting companies for gun deaths, based on the model of suits against tobacco companies for the health effects of their products.

As gun control has taken a renewed focus in the wake of President Barack Obama’s announcement that he would sign executive orders to try to increase background checks, Hillary Clinton has renewed her focus on her rival’s past stances on gun laws.

Last week, she made the unusual move of calling into MSNBC’s “Hardball” to criticize Sanders’ gun position.

“I think that the excuses and efforts by Senator Sanders to avoid responsibility for this vote which the NRA hailed as the most important in twenty years, points at a clear difference,” Clinton told CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday morning. “It’s a difference that Democratic voters in our primary can take into account.”

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