Fact-Checking the South Carolina Democratic Debate

Seven of the candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination took the stage on Tuesday night in Charleston for their last debate before South Carolina’s primary on Saturday.

Here is how the candidates’ remarks stacked up against the truth.

What the Facts Are:

What Mr. Biden Said:

“Bernie voted five times against the Brady bill, and wanted a waiting period of 12 hours.”

This is true. Mr. Sanders voted against the Brady bill, which mandated a 5-day waiting period for gun purchases, five times as Congress considered various versions. Mr. Sanders did vote for an amendment to the bill that would have imposed an instant background check system, but the technology did not exist at the time.

But overall, Mr. Sanders has a mixed record on guns and he has admitted that his position on guns has evolved, saying at a February debate that “the world has changed and my views have changed.” Since 1992, he’s received grades ranging from a C- to an F from the National Rifle Association and an F in his most recent re-election campaign in 2018.

He has also voted against funding for gun research (though he has since reversed his position), for increasing the burden of proof to prosecute lawbreaking gun dealers, and for allowing firearms on Amtrak trains and in national parks.

But Mr. Sanders also fulfilled his pledge to vote in favor of banning assault weapons. He has also voted to regulate high capacity magazines, expand background checks, prohibit the sale of firearms to people on the government’s terrorist watchlist.

Mr. Sanders did vote twice to prohibit lawsuits against firearms manufacturers for crimes committed with a gun in 2003. He has since reversed his position and co-sponsored legislation in 2017 and 2019 to repeal the laws that shields gunmakers from liability.

Fact checks by Linda Qiu.

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