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WASHINGTON — An exasperated Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday blasted Congress after a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, killed 10 students and teachers two days earlier. The Vermont senator blamed lawmakers for failing to act on gun control, saying they are intimidated by the National Rifle Association.
When asked on “Meet The Press” if the Senate had done enough to prevent school shootings, Sanders said: “Of course not.”
“But it’s like every other issue,” Sanders said, “the American people are united overwhelmingly — gun owners, non-gun owners — on common sense gun safety legislation. Expand background checks, do away with the gun show loophole.”
“It is unspeakable,” he added. “It really is, to see that kids all over this country who go to a place where they should feel safe where they can focus on learning are now worried about the things we saw in Texas or Florida a few months ago. It’s unspeakable.”
Sanders put the blame on the NRA for why legislation has never passed, saying, “the NRA, frankly, which once was believe it or not a gun safety organization, teaching kids how to use guns safely, has moved to become part of, to become, a right-wing political organization far beyond guns, as a matter of fact.”
Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, has a mixed record on guns, though he has taken a much more firm stance in recent years.
Over the course of the 2016 presidential campaign, Democratic rival Hillary Clinton attacked him for being too moderate on the issue throughout his career. He voted multiple times against the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in the early 1990s, which aimed to build a background check system and install waiting periods.
But Sanders voted multiple times after the deadly mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, to expand background checks for all gun sales and has called for numerous changes to gun laws since then.
Some local officials in Texas on Sunday also called for government leaders to take more action in trying to prevent mass shootings like the one that hit their community this week.
“People at the state level and the federal level in too many places in our country are not doing anything other than offering prayers,” said Houston police chief Art Acevedo on CBS News. One of armed guards who was injured in the Santa Fe shooting was a retired Houston police officer.
Acevedo added, "now we need to look ahead to see how we can do better next time, because there will be a next time based on the inaction of elected officials across this county."