Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) struggled to explain his position Thursday on whether Sandy Hook families should be able to hold the manufacturer of the AR-15 gun used in the 2012 massacre liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Sanders voted for a 2005 law that grants immunity to gun manufacturers for injuries caused by their products.
Since then, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act has been used by gun manufacturers and retailers to quash hundreds of lawsuits filed by victims of gun violence. The law is deeply unpopular among Democrats, and then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) voted against it.
"They have the right to sue, and I support them and anyone else who wants the right to sue," Sanders said in the CNN Democratic debate.
But "if a gun shop owner sells a weapon legally to somebody and that person then goes out and kills somebody, I don't believe it is appropriate that that gun shop owner who just sold a legal weapon to be held accountable and be sued," Sanders added.
The weapon used in the Sandy Hook mass shooting was purchased legally by the shooter's mother. So, what Sanders was saying is that he believes the Sandy Hook victims should have a right to sue -- and lose.
When Clinton pointed out that Sanders voted five times against the landmark Brady gun-control bill, Sanders retreated to a position more often used by pro-gun advocates, namely, that government must "make certain that guns do not fall into the hands of people who should not have them."
And while Sanders said he supports a ban on military-style automatic firearms, or "assault weapons," he insisted that the gun industry plays no part in America's epidemic of gun violence.