by Sabrina Siddiqui, The Guardian, 19 December 2015
Senator’s voting record on guns a rare breach with progressive base while Democratic frontrunner steps up calls to close ‘loopholes’ with stricter laws
Bernie Sanders often boasts of a D-minus rating from the National Rifle Association. And yet, as the candidates take the stage on Saturday for the third Democratic presidential debate, the Vermont senator finds himself on the defensive over gun control.
The issue has risen to prominence amid a series of high-profile shootings, from Charleston to Roseburg and San Bernardino. At the debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, the question is likely to rise again: faced with an epidemic of gun violence, what more can America do?
There are few policy areas in which Sanders’s opponents have attacked him from the left. But on gun control, frontrunner Hillary Clinton has drawn a contrast between her long-held progressive views and Sanders’s somewhat mixed record.
A key area of disagreement was laid bare in the first debate in October, when Sanders struggled to explain his support for a bill in 2005 that granted legal protections to gun manufacturers. Attacked by Clinton and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, Sanders said he voted for “a large and complicated bill”. Clinton countered by pointing out that she had voted against the same measure and had not found it “that complicated”….
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