With the first contests of the Democratic primary drawing closer, Sunday’s presidential debate between the White House hopefuls was fierce and heated.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, along with former Gov. Martin O’Malley, took the stage in Charleston, South Carolina, and spent the better part of the evening trading barbs over gun control.
The former secretary of the state called out the Vermont senator for his inconsistency on the issue and slammed him for voting “with the NRA numerous times.” She also noted that her rival voted against the Brady Bill five times while supporting the Charleston loophole and immunity for gun makers and sellers.
“I am pleased to hear that Sen. Sanders has reversed his position on immunity,” Clinton said, referring to 2005 vote that gave gun manufacturers immunity from prosecution. She seized the opportunity to remind people that the debate was unfolding just a block away from the church where a self-proclaimed white supremacist killed nine African-Americans last June.
However, not the one to be one-upped, Sanders hit back just as hard and argued that he had a D-minus voting rating from the National Rifle Association.
“I think that Secretary Clinton knows that what she says is very disingenuous,” the 74-year-old said, when the NBC News debate moderator noted that last week Clinton called him “a pretty reliable vote for the gun lobby.”
“I stood up to the gun lobby and came out and maintained the position that in this country we should not be selling military-style assault weapons,” he added. “I have supported from day one instant background checks.”
Moreover, Sanders also expressed his support for President Barack Obama’s stance on gun laws, claiming that it should be a “federal crime if people act as dormant.” He added that he feels gun control has become too politicized and partisan of an issue in the U.S. — which is something that many Americans probably agree with.
With Iowa caucuses just a few weeks away, it is interesting to see the Democratic candidates with similar economic positions clash over such an important issue. However, it is a different debate altogether if either of the candidates manage to satisfy the voters with their positions on the matter.
Meanwhile, as Clinton and Sanders sparred with each other, O’Malley just stared on silently before insisting that they have both been “inconsistent” on guns.
“I am the one person on this stage who has passed comprehensive gun legislation,” he said during one of his rare moments in front of the camera.