Sen. Bernie Sanders comes across as a rumpled, avuncular character, a man of principle following his deep-seated convictions.
Of course, he's just another craven politician following the Machiavelli handbook — as well as Saul Alinsky's "Rules For Radicals." And while Sanders calls himself an "independent," he has nearly always voted with the Democrats ever since he took office in 2007. One last thing: The Vermont senator is a Socialist, but he owns three houses, including a beautiful $600,000 waterfront house on Lake Champlain.
So it comes as no surprise that Sanders isn't what he says he is, in this case on the topic of guns.
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," host Chuck Todd pressed Sanders on his own voting record on guns, seeing as how Democrats and liberals are pushing new gun control efforts on the wake a school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead. Todd noted that Sanders has not always voted for gun control, and he brought up his 2013 comments in which the senator said additional gun control measures would not prevent shootings.
"If you passed the strongest gun control legislation tomorrow, I don't think it will have a profound effect on the tragedies we have seen," Sanders said then.
As Todd asked about that comment, Sanders interrupted the host to tout his poor grade from the National Rifle Association. But Todd pressed. "Senator, you ended up voting for some of those reforms, gun control measures that you weren't 100 percent sure would solve all the problems. Where are you today? Do you think now—"
"Hey, Chuck, Chuck, let's be very clear!" Sanders said. "Hey, Chuck, let's be very clear. I have a D-minus voting record from the NRA. I lost an election probably for Congress here in Vermont back in 1988, because I believed that we should not be selling or distributing assault weapons in this country. I am on record and have been for a very long time in saying we have got to significantly tighten up the background checks."
In the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign, Politico wrote a piece headlined, "Bernie Sanders' awkward history with guns in America."
Arguably, the independent senator from Vermont has taken a pragmatic approach – his state prides itself on a deep hunting and gun culture and has traditionally fiercely defended its lax guns laws.
But while his campaign manager says he is “very moderate” on the issue, others call him “erratic.” To wit, he has voted against the Brady Bill, voted for an assault weapons ban, voted to allow firearms on Amtrak, and voted for universal background checks — upsetting gun-control and gun-rights advocates alike.
Same as it ever was, right? Maybe he'll have a clear stance by the time he runs for president in 2020.