Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday called for an assault weapons ban in his second straight day of talking about an issue — guns — where he has sometimes deviated from the Democratic Party's consensus.
In a campaign appearance ahead of next week's Democratic presidential debate, Sanders cited two shootings Friday at universities in Arizona and Texas as well as last week's slayings at an Oregon community college.
"Instead of people yelling at each other, we have got to come together on commonsense approaches which, in fact, the vast majority of the American people support," said Sanders, who represents a rural state with few gun laws.
Sanders added that there is "widespread support to ban semi-automatic assault weapons, guns which have no other purpose but to kill people."
Sanders supported such a ban along with universal background checks — another measure he called for on Saturday — in 2013, after the massacre at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School. But the self-described socialist has also voted to allow guns in national parks, to shield firearms manufacturers from liability for shootings and against a five-day waiting period for gun purchases. Many expect him to come under criticism for his record at the first debate on Tuesday.
The comments were similar to ones Sanders made in Tucson on Friday. Otherwise, he focused Saturday on familiar themes, decrying income inequality and the political clout of corporations and the wealthy.