Bernie Sanders changes position on guns, supports liability for gun makers

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Jan. 17, 2016 at 11:09 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Democratic candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday lent his support to a bill to remove legal immunity for gun makers and gun sellers established in a 2005 law he supported.

The new bill -- introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. -- will rescind portions of a law that grants broad immunity from lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers.

"I'm pleased that this legislation is being introduced," Sanders said in a statement. "As I have said for many months now, we need to look at the underlying law and tighten it up."

Although Sanders did vote for the law in 2005, he said he supports his vote because he worries about the impact rescinding immunity would have on small, family-run gun shops that acted responsibly.

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"As I have said, I do want to make sure that this legislation does not negatively impact small gun stores in rural America that serve the hunting community," Sanders added. "So I'm pleased to support the legislation and should it come up for consideration I would work to make sure it includes a provision that allows us to monitor its impact so that we may determine if it is having any unintended consequences."

In July of 2015, he compared gun makers to manufacturers of hammers, saying he didn't think either of them should be sued when their product is used in a murder.

The new bill will keep in place provisions in the 2005 that require child safety locks on guns and a ban on armor-piercing ammunition.

John Podesta, the campaign chairman for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reacted positively to Sanders' announcement, suggesting it was motivated by politics.

"The Clinton campaign welcomes Senator Sanders' debate-eve conversion, reversing his vote to immunize gun manufacturers," Podesta wrote on Twitter.

On CNN's State of the Union on Sunday morning with Jake Tapper, Clinton was more direct.

"I am very pleased that he flip-flopped on the immunity legislation. Now I hope he will flip-flop on what we call the Charleston loophole and join legislation to close that," she said, referring to the "default proceed" rule that lets gun sellers proceed with the sale of a gun if they haven't heard back from the FBI by the end of the three-day waiting period.

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