Gun industry fires back at Clinton Dem debate comments, praises Sanders

The National Shooting Sports Foundation this week defended the gun industry against comments made by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during her party’s debate over the weekend.

During the event on Sunday, Clinton responded to a question posed by Gene Kopf, father of Abigail Kopf, a 14-year-old girl injured during a shooting rampage last month in Kalamazoo, Michigan, about a two-hour drive from the debate stage in Flint.

Kopf said the man who injured his daughter and another person during the shooting in which six others were killed, didn’t have a history of mental illness. He asked the candidates what they would do to address the “serious epidemic” of gun violence.

“I don’t want to hear anything about tougher laws for mental health or criminal backgrounds, because that doesn’t work,” Kopf said.

Clinton responded by attacking a 2005 law protecting gun manufacturers from liability lawsuits when their products are used in the commission of a crime.

“Giving immunity to gunmakers and sellers was a terrible mistake,” Clinton said.

The gun industry’s largest trade group responded Monday by calling the former secretary of state’s comments false and praised her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for his response.

“Hillary Clinton again falsely charged that the firearms industry is immune from liability due to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and that the law should be repealed,” the NSSF said in an email bulletin. “To his credit, her challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, said he does not favor trying to drive firearms manufacturers out of business.”

Sanders did defend the law, which he voted in favor of, saying that manufacturers and sellers should not be held accountable for the misuse of their products.

“I disagree because you hold people – in terms of this liability thing, where you hold manufacturers’ liability is if they understand that they’re selling guns into an area that – it’s getting into the hands of criminals, of course they should be held liable,” Sanders said. “But if they are selling a product to a person who buys it legally, what you’re really talking about is ending gun manufacturing in America. I don’t agree with that.”

Sanders referred to a provision in the immunity law which holds accountable manufacturers or sellers who knowingly sell firearms or ammunition to prohibited users. It’s because of that provision the firearms industry and gun rights advocates can claim the law does not provide absolute immunity and thus protects only lawful commerce. Another provision holds gun manufacturers accountable if their products cause injury because of a defect.

Clinton and other opponents of the measure say the firearms industry is getting unfair protection enjoyed by no other industry, but that’s not the case, fact-checker Politifact found.

The National Rifle Association in a tweet also praised Sanders for his response, calling it “spot-on.”

The highest grade Sanders received from the gun rights group was a C- during his 2006 U.S. Senate race in Vermont, though he often likes to tout the D- he earned during his 2012 reelection campaign.

On its Twitter feed, the NRA called both candidates “equally unacceptable on the Second Amendment,” but on untrustworthiness on all topics Clinton is “unrivaled.”

“So don’t get too excited…NRA is NOT feeling the bern!” read another NRA tweet.