Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Sunday called for lawmakers to find “common ground” on gun legislation amid the massacre in Lafayette, Louisiana, and dismissed criticism of his mixed record on gun control.
“As a nation, we can’t continue screaming at each other … we’ll have to find common ground,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Coming from a rural state, I think I can communicate with folks coming from urban states, where guns mean different things than they do in Vermont, where [they are] used for hunting. That’s where we have to go. We don’t have to argue with each other and yell at each other. We need a common sense solution.”
Despite his liberal views on most issues, the Democratic presidential candidate has voted against certain gun control bills in the Senate and House. His positions are largely in line with those of his constituents: Vermont traditionally has had high gun ownership rates and lax gun laws.
In 1993, Sanders opposed the Brady Bill, which imposed mandatory background checks and a five-day waiting period on gun purchases. Sanders also authorized a bill that protects gun manufacturers from lawsuits, a measure for which the NRA heavily lobbied. The NRA endorsed Sanders in his first congressional election in 1990 (though since then, it has given him mostly D and F ratings). After the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, he reversed his previous position and voted for an expansion of background checks.
On Sunday, Sanders dismissed criticism from Democrats on his prior opposition to gun control measures and defended his support for universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and closing the gun show loophole.
"Nobody should have a gun who has a criminal background, was involved in domestic abuse situations. People should not have guns who are going to hurt other people, who are unstable," he said. "And second of all, I believe that we need to make sure that certain types of guns used to kill people exclusively -- not for hunting -- they should not be sold in the United States of America."