WASHINGTON -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Sunday pushed back against Democrats who said his gun control record was out of step with the party, arguing he's the candidate who can get beyond the noise and pass real legislation.
During an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Sanders touted his lifetime voting record of D-minus with the NRA.
"I do not accept the fact that I have been weak on this issue," Sanders said. "In fact, I have been strong on this issue. In fact, coming from a rural state which has almost no gun control, I think I can get beyond the noise and all of these arguments and people shouting at each other and come up with real, constructive gun control legislation which, most significantly, gets guns out of the hands of people who should not have them."
In the past, Sanders' position on guns has been described as moderate given Vermont's hunting culture. Earlier this week, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) criticized Sanders for voting against the Brady bill as a member of the House, which established a federal background check program and required waiting periods on purchases.
Malloy said Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton's position on gun control is far more popular within the party than Sanders'.
Asked about Malloy's comments, Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist running for the Democratic nomination, argued that he has taken a strong stance on stricter gun laws.
"I voted in a state, by the way, Jake, which has almost no gun control, not an easy vote -- I voted against the NRA, and I voted to ban certain types of semiautomatic weapons," he said. "I voted to eliminate this gun show loophole which allows people to purchase guns without a background check."
Sanders added that the U.S. needs to do a better job when it comes to mental health and ensure people are able to get the care and counseling they need.
Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Sanders is a self-described democratic socialist.