Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders received praise on Monday from a group that may put him in an awkward position.
The National Rifle Association posted a tweet in support of a comment the Vermont senator made on gun industry immunity during a heated exchange in Sunday night’s Democratic debate with his rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Sen. Sanders was spot-on in his comments about gun manufacturer liability/PLCAA,” the gun lobby tweeted. The post was accompanied by a graphic of the senator’s remarks: “What you’re talking about is ending gun manufacturing in America. I don’t agree with that.
The group later tweeted: “Hillary & Bernie are equally bad on #2A. But on untrustworthiness on all topics, @HillaryClinton is unrivaled.”
During the debate, which was televised live from Flint, Michigan, host Anderson Cooper asked Sanders and Clinton if they support a lawsuit filed by families of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting victims. The suit is against Remington Arms Company, which manufactured the weapon the gunman used. Cooper said it might not go anywhere because of a law Sanders backed in 2005 that shields gun manufacturers from certain lawsuits when someone legally buys a gun and then intentionally misuses it.
Sanders argued that he doesn’t agree with Clinton that gun manufacturers should be held accountable if a crime is committed with their product.
“If you go to a store and you legally purchase a gun, and three days later you go out and start killing people, is the point to hold the gun shop owner or the manufacturer of that gun liable? If that’s the point, I disagree,” he said. “If they are selling a product to a person who buys it legally, what you’re talking about is ending gun manufacturing in America.”
Clinton, who voted against the bill when she was a senator from New York, argued, “No other industry in America has absolute immunity.”
But PolitiFact rated Clinton’s statement as “false,” saying the law specifies situations in which the gun industry can be sued. “Further, Congress has passed a number of laws that protect a variety of business sectors from lawsuits in certain situations, so the situation is not unique to the gun industry,” the site reported.
Clinton’s campaign used the NRA’s tweets to support its argument that Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is weak and out of touch on guns.
In the debate, Sanders emphasized that he has a D-minus rating from the NRA.