Vermont/United States – -(AmmoLand.com)- Bernard Sanders has occupied a position on the left-wing fringe of American politics for over 30 years. However, he was, at times, a friend to those who lawfully and responsibly exercise their Second Amendment rights. That has changed, and Bernie has gone from a Second Amendment bro to just another extreme anti-Second Amendment zero.
Through the first half of the 1990s, Sanders actually stood with law-abiding gun owners for the most part. He opposed the Brady Act in 1993, and also backed instant background checks over waiting periods. He supported mandatory minimum sentences for the misuse of firearms in the commission of crimes. But on the same token, he not only backed the 1994 ban on modern multi-purpose semi-automatic firearms, he refused to support a 1996 repeal effort.
Perhaps nothing displayed his hot-and-cold attitude towards law-abiding gun owners more than his handling of the 1999 effort to effectively kill gun shows. He backed the 72-hour wait favored by Bill Clinton, opposed the NRA’s 24-hour alternative, then voted to kill the bill after the NRA’s alternative passed.
What do we make of this? When you look at the roll call on the final passage of the gun show bill in the House, the 280 “No” votes came from both strong Second Amendment supporters like Ron Paul, and anti-Second Amendment extremists like Carolyn McCarthy.
Sanders voted “No,” but was it because he decided the bill didn’t do enough to destroy gun shows?
In one sense, it doesn’t matter, since for Second Amendment supporters, no bill emerging out of Congress for Bill Clinton’s signature was the best outcome in the wake of the shooting at Columbine High School. I should add that it was one that was achieved via brilliant tactics and strategy on the part of NRA’s leadership.
Sanders would support the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in both 2003 and 2005, as well as other minor measures, but he was turning away from law-abiding gun owners. He voted against concealed carry reciprocity multiple times. He supported “universal” background checks and again backed a ban on modern multi-purpose semi-automatic firearms.
For his 2016 presidential run, he completed his turn against Second Amendment supporters to suit his presidential ambitions. These days, his positions are indistinguishable from all but the most extreme of the anti-Second Amendment extremists. It’s a sad state – and while he denounces the NRA as being a “right wing” group, he was the one who started turning away from the millions of law-abiding gun owners who the NRA spoke for.
Like Kirsten Gillibrand and Bob Casey, Sanders himself is to blame for souring the relationship with law-abiding gun owners by betraying them for praise form the media. The NRA has long stood with pro-Second Amendment incumbents, often to the anger of members who supported primary challengers who were also pro-Second Amendment.
Sanders also has supported all sorts of restrictions on political advocacy via campaign finance reform. This is bad for a number of reasons that we have discussed here at Ammoland. I’ll put it bluntly: We rely on our First Amendment rights to defend our Second Amendment rights, and efforts to muzzle Second Amendment supporters should be scored the way a vote on banning guns should be scored.
Many have complained the NRA has become a partisan organization. However, the sagas of Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Bob Casey make it clear that the NRA may have been reacting to a series of betrayals – and that maybe if Democrats want NRA support, perhaps they should be voting against the anti-Second Amendment agenda of Michael Bloomberg and his fellow extremists.
About Harold Hutchison
Writer Harold Hutchison has more than a dozen years of experience covering military affairs, international events, U.S. politics and Second Amendment issues. Harold was consulting senior editor at Soldier of Fortune magazine and is the author of the novel Strike Group Reagan. He has also written for the Daily Caller, National Review, Patriot Post, Strategypage.com, and other national websites.