Another deadly night in my city, not just in Lafayette, Louisiana.
I get into fights with people about gun control all the time, and keep stressing the point that people in cities are the ones who can be sitting in their living rooms and still get shot and killed — all because gun lovers support the NRA, and the politicians are cowed by them.
Bernie Sanders is the tell-it-like-it-is candidate of the left’s dreams: He takes on “the billionaire class” and wants Medicare for all. Thousands are drawn to his unapologetically liberal (even democratic socialist) message at events in Iowa and New Hampshire. In both states he’s closing in or even tied with Hillary Clinton in presidential polls.
So why on the issue of guns is he parroting wholly inane, sometimes racist talking points from the National Rifle Association?
“If somebody has a gun and it falls into the hands of a murderer and the murderer kills somebody with a gun, do you hold the gun manufacturer responsible?” hesaid to Jake Tapper on CNN. “Not any more than you would hold a hammer company responsible if somebody beats somebody over the head with a hammer.”
Now listen to one of the most viciously stupid men in Congress, Representative Louis Gohmert of Texas, a mere few weeks after the Sandy Hook Massacre.
“I refuse to play the game of ‘assault weapon.’ That’s any weapon. It’s a hammer.”
Sanders was defending his vote for a 2005 law that protected gun manufacturers from lawsuits by victims of gun violence in a manner that big corporations in no other sector of the economy have received. It’s the same law that has prevented parents of the Aurora massacre victims from suing the manufacturer who didn’t think twice about selling 4,300 rounds to James Holmes via the Internet without so much as a cursory check. Whether marketing guns to kids or bullets designed specifically to kill cops, there is no getting around the fact that Sanders joined Blue Dog Democrats and right-wing Republicans in giving arms-dealer conglomerates a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Meanwhile, Sanders sells himself as an anti-corporate warrior who tells inconvenient truths, bows to no special interest, and abides no corporate malfeasance. Yet he still defends this breathtakingly corporatist vote. It’s a vote he’d be savaging in every speech, had it been Senator Chuck Schumer voting to provide blanket immunity for Wall Street or Senator Mitch McConnell voting to put a force field around Big Coal.
Even worse, and actually more offensive, was Sanders’s recent response to his support for weak guns laws. It sounds innocent to the untrained ear, but if you follow the debate over gun violence and gun-safety regulations, then right away you’ll have no trouble hearing the dog whistle that usually emerges from the most right wing, racist precincts of Gunistan:
“I come from a state that has virtually no gun control, but the people of my state understand—pretty clearly—that guns in Vermont are not the same as guns in Chicago or guns in Los Angeles. In our state, guns are used for hunting. In Chicago, they’re used for kids in gangs killing other kids or people shooting police officers, shooting down innocent people.”
It’s states like Vermont that fuel Chicago’s gun violence! Firearms are illegally sold in Chicago after being legally purchased in neighboring states with little to no regulations. In fact, Sanders’s own Vermonters, whom he claims are above this kind of behavior, notoriously use the state’s lax firearms laws to ship guns into Boston and New York City (often in return for drugs).
That doesn’t even touch the astronomical suicide rates plaguing rural America anddisproportionately high rural in Vermont, because of this easy gun access. You’d think a progressive with a passion for health care and improving his constituents’ lives would care deeply about that.