Sanders Wants to Repeal Gun Maker Liability Law He Once Supported

PHOTO: Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally at Music Man Square on Jan. 27, 2016 in Mason City, Iowa.PlayBrendan Hoffman/Getty Images
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Sen. Bernie Sanders -- whose vote in favor of a bill that protected gun makers from liability in many cases became a key attack point for the Hillary Clinton campaign -- is co-sponsoring a new bill that would repeal that measure, according to a spokesman for his Senate office.

The goal of the law had been to protect the gun industry from frivolous lawsuits, but supporters of its repeal say the measure was overly broad. They also say it has several unintended consequences including shielding so-called “straw purchasers,” who buy guns and then sell them to people without requiring a background check, from litigation as well.

Clinton, who served as a Senator from 2001 to 2009, has criticized Sanders frequently on the campaign trail for his vote in support of the bill, the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). She voted against it.

“There was vote in the Congress; do we give the gun lobby, the manufacturers and the sellers, absolute immunity from any liability or accountability? President Obama and I were both in the Senate and we voted no. Senator Sanders voted yes. That is a big difference between us because I believe we have to stand with President Obama now,” she said at an event in Iowa earlier this month.

Sanders said he would support the bill that would repeal the 2005 law when it was first announced two weeks ago and became an official co-sponsor Wednesday.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a group that also supports the liability bill’s repeal, said in a statement that Sanders staff met Wednesday with Hector Adames and Rosalia Diaz, whose case against the gun manufacturer Beretta after the accidental shooting death of their son was rejected by the Supreme Court in 2009.

Adames and Diaz also appeared in a press conference Wednesday in which the legislation was officially introduced.

Sanders also proposed an amendment to require the Commerce Department to monitor and report on the new law’s impact in rural areas on the availability of hunting supplies sold by non-negligent local gun stores.

In the press conference Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), one of the repeal bill’s authors, expressed openness to Sanders’ amendment as long as the reporting requirement did not impede the law’s repeal.

“We'd be happy to see what Sen. Sanders has in mind,” Schiff said.