The National Rifle Association praised Sen. Bernie Sanders in a tweet it issued today following the March 6 Democratic presidential debate. It was in Michigan where Sanders expressed support for gun manufacturers’ immunity from certain types of law suits. When fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton criticized him for voting in favor of the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), Sanders said “What people are saying is that if somebody who is crazy or a criminal or a horrible person goes around shooting people, the manufacturer of that gun should be held liable. If that is the case, your position is that there should not be any guns in America, period… I don’t agree with that.”
Clinton voted against the measure and countered that her opposition to PLCAA would make guns safer rather than eliminate them. “I want people in this audience to think about what it must feel like to send off your first-grader, a little backpack maybe on his or her back, and then the next thing you hear is that somebody has come to that school using an automatic weapon, an AR-15, and murdered those children,” she said. “Now they are trying to prevent that from happening to any other family, and the best way to do that is to go after the people… you know, we talk about corporate greed, the gun manufacturers sell guns to make as much money as they can make.”
The NRA tweeted its agreement with the Vermont senator, who has as an independent in the Senate has been at odds with the Democrats with whom he caucuses.
Sanders currently has an NRA rating of “D minus”, which he mentioned during the debate. This is up from his previous score of “F”. Currently, Clinton ranks an “F”.
However, in January, Sanders promised as president he would seek to repeal PLCAA, even though he said that there are “parts of it that made sense to me.”
“If you have a small gun shop owner in Northern Vermont who sells a gun legally to somebody and then, you know, something happens to that guy, he goes nuts or something, and he kills somebody, should the gun shop owner be held liable? I think not,” Sanders said.
Clinton has condemned PLCAA all along. In 2015, she called PLCAA “one of the most egregious, wrong, pieces of legislation that ever passed the Congress when it comes to this issue is to protect gun sellers and gun makers from liability.”
“They are the only business in America that is wholly protected from any kind of liability,” she added. “They can sell a gun to someone they know they shouldn’t, and they won’t be sued. There will be no consequences.”
But immunity for gun makers and sellers remains under assault. In what may be a precedent, in 2015 a Wisconsin jury ordered the Badger Guns store to pay $6 million for its role in an illegal gun sale that ultimately led to two police officers getting shot in the face. Badger Guns was found to have been negligent in the sale, and therefore liable for the shooting. One officer has shattered teeth and another lost an eye and part of his brain. In December 2015, Badger Guns agreed to pay $1 million and thus avoid an expected lengthy appeal of the decision.