With the Brady Campaign's recent endorsement of Hillary Clinton, many would assume she is the candidate with the best credentials on guns. Bernie Sanders has, after all, voted against several key gun reforms throughout his career, in spite of having a "D-" rating from the NRA. However, asking if a candidate has a record of supporting gun control is the wrong question. That's because gun control, as of right now, is an issue of campaign finance reform.
The gun rights lobby, which consists of several groups including the NRA, is one of the more powerful lobbies in D.C. It outspends gun control lobby, which is also comprised of several organizations including Everytown for Gun Safety, by a ratio of 6.7-to-1. The NRA's alone outspends the entire gun control lobby by about 2-to-1. It is clear that power resides in spending capacity. This is why the gun lobby was able to defeat the Manchin-Toomey background check bill in spite of the fact that universal background checks had as much as 91 percent support among the American people at the time. Under our current system, passing meaningful reform is unlikely because special interests have such a huge handicap in any political fight.
We've become a country that adheres to the golden rule: he who has the gold makes the rules.
And that is why Hillary Clinton is the wrong candidate for gun control advocates to support. Sure, she might keep in place President Obama's executive action, but it is unlikely she'll be able to do more than that given our current system. And it is hard to take her position on campaign finance reform seriously considering the fact that she's one of the biggest beneficiaries of the status quo.
Bernie Sanders' past positions on guns is irrelevant. If he is able to fix political spending, which is an issue he is campaigning on and is one of his top priorities, the gun lobby's power will disappear. It will be a long road, but the majority of Americans favor expanded background checks and feel gun laws should be "more strict." In order to win, those voices must count, and so the answer is clear: gun reform advocates should back Bernie Sanders.