Democrat Debate: Bernie Sanders Brags About His ‘D-‘ from the NRA

NBC News/screenshot
NBC News/screenshot

During the January 17 Democratic Debate, presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders bragged about his “D-” from the NRA. He also talked about standing up to “the gun lobby” when running for Congress in 1988.

He said these things in response to moderator Lester Holt’s opening question about guns.

Speaking to Sanders, Holt said, “Last week Secretary Clinton called you, ‘a pretty reliable vote for the gun lobby.’ Right before the debate you change you position on immunity from lawsuits for gun manufacturers. Can you tell us why?”

Sanders responded:

I have a D- voting record from the NRA. I was — in 1988 — there were three candidates running for Congress in the state of Vermont, I stood up to the gun lobby and came out and maintained the position that in this country we should not be selling military-style assault weapons. I have supported from day one an instant background check to make certain that people who should not have guns do not have guns. And that includes people with criminal backgrounds; people who are mentally unstable.

I support what President Obama is doing in terms of trying to close the “gun show loopholes” and I think it should be a federal crime if people act as strawmen.

We have seen in [Charleston] a horrendous tragedy of a crazed person praying with people and then coming out and shooting nine people. This should not be a political issue. What we should be doing is working together.

And by the way, as a senator from rural state that has virtually no gun control, I believe I am in an excellent position to bring people together to fight for sensible gun safety legislation.

Holt followed up by pointing out that Sanders had not answered the question about his support of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) which protects gun manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits.

Sanders said:

Gun manufacturers liability bill had some good provisions, among other things we prohibited ammunition that would have killed cops who had protection on. We had child safety protection on guns in that legislation. And what we also say is that a small mom and pop gun shop who sells a gun legally to somebody should not be held liable if somebody does something terrible with that gun.

After defending the PLCAA’s protections of “mom and pop” gun stores, Sanders said he has agreed to revisit the bill and vote in support of revisions to it.

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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