Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was recently asked in an interview if he thought that the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School victims can be allowed to sue gun manufacturers. The Vermont senator answered, “No, I don’t.”
Sanders’ response has already been featured in headlines, particularly the New York Daily News, and earned the ire of some of the victims’ families.
Erica Smegielski made her voice heard on Twitter and said, “Shame on you, @Bernie Sanders try living one hour of our lives.”
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 6, 2016
Smegielski, 30, is a supporter of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, and the daughter of Sandy Hook principal, Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed during the shooting in December, 2012. The tragedy that took place in Newtown, Connecticut, claimed the lives of 20 children and six adult staff members.
Also, the New York Daily News headline also says that Sanders, 74, “callously defends gun makers against Newtown kin lawsuit.”
— Mashable (@mashable) April 6, 2016
In an interview with CNN, Smegielski said that Sanders owes them an apology for his callous and insensitive comments about families and victims who are still fighting for justice.
“This is a man who has prided himself on standing up to the big guys on behalf of the little guys for years, but he is not doing that for victims of gun violence,” she said.
On the other hand, Sanders’ complete response to the question was that while he does not think that victims should be allowed to sue gun manufacturers, he says these businesses can be sued if they knowingly sold their merchandise to the wrong people.
“But I do believe that gun manufacturers and gun dealers should be able to be sued when they should know that guns are going into the hands of the wrong people,” the senator said.
Bernie Sanders to cosponsor bill to end gun manufacturer immunity https://t.co/7DnDzt1ZvS
— TIME.com (@TIME) January 28, 2016
The Democratic candidate said that manufacturers should not be sued for selling a legal product, but if they were negligent in conducting background checks and other tests, and the weapon was used for violence, then “there are grounds for those suits.”
Sanders’ spokesman Michael Briggs also stressed the fact that the Vermont senator already has a D-rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) for his support to ban assault weapons.
“He supports President Obama’s efforts to end gun violence. He voted for the legislation considered by the Senate after Sandy Hook. He has a clear and consistent record on the issue,” Briggs said.
Meanwhile, Clinton, 68, provided moral support for Smegielski after she started receiving offensive tweets and remarks after speaking her mind.
“@EricaSmegs remember, any hateful comments are just noise compared to your voice for change. With you in the fight to stop gun violence. –H,” said the former secretary of state.
@EricaSmegs remember, any hateful comments are just noise compared to your voice for change. With you in the fight to stop gun violence. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 6, 2016
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy also had something to say about Sanders’ comments. He said on social media that while he respects Bernie Sanders as a friend, Democrats cannot nominate someone who supports gun manufacturer immunity.
“I am less sure today than ever before as to whether Sen. Sanders is for us or against us with respect to our fight against the gun lobby,” Murphy said on Wednesday at the Clinton call.
Bernie is a friend, but this is really bad. Dems can’t nominate a candidate who supports gun manufacturer immunity. pic.twitter.com/JEgXQhlnAA
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) April 5, 2016
As far as Jeff Weaver, another Sanders adviser, is concerned, the comments are “certainly not accurate” as they were portrayed by the Daily News, which is considered a popular tabloid in Sanders’ hometown of New York.
The controversy will soon take its toll on Bernie Sanders, who has been wavering in his stance on the gun lobby since the start of his campaign. While he is fresh from a major win in Wisconsin, he will have to deal with New York on April 19 and Connecticut primary voters on April 26.
[Photo by Rich Pedroncelli/AP Images]