Gun Issues Post-Sandy Hook Certainly Belong in Presidential Debate

There is a popular new way for a politician to try to avoid discussing certain issues connected to a particularly troubling event—simply claim that to do so would be to “politicize” it. The Obama administration used it after the Benghazi terrorist attacks. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is using it now. It doesn’t want to defend his position on gun control so it says to engage in debate is to politicize the Sandy Hook massacre.

Jane Sanders, wife of Bernie, appeared on CNN to criticize Hillary Clinton for having events with Sandy Hook families. “I just don’t like to see [the Sandy Hook murders] politicized.” Well, guess who does? Some of the surviving family members. They are meeting with Hillary and one, Erica Smegielski, is featured in a new Clinton TV spot. Smegielski lost her mother at Sandy Hook.

Sanders’ position on gun control—that gun manufacturers should be immune from lawsuits brought by victims of gun violence—is certainly fair game. And his position in the context of the Newtown travesty is proper. In fact, it’s necessary.

Bernie Sanders voted against the Brady Bill five times. He voted in favor of the bill that insulated the gun companies from lawsuits like the one brought by Sandy Hook families. For a while, he maintained they shouldn’t be able to sue. He changed that to say “everyone has a right to sue.”

Sanders’ response to these facts is that the NRA gave him a D-minus and that he lost some election years ago because he wasn’t sufficiently pro-gun. Sorry, not good enough. The Sandy Hook families are the ones who know these issues firsthand. To suggest that the killings are off limits is insulting.

It’s not persuasive that Hillary Clinton’s record on gun control is not exactly stellar. In fact, Barrack Obama referred to her during the 2008 campaign as “talking like Annie Oakley.” But she certainly is on the right side of the issue now. “But what about her?” doesn’t negate his record. It’s lousy.

Connecticut voters are right to take the respective candidates’ positions on guns when they vote Tuesday.