Joe Biden Attacks Bernie Sanders’s Record on Guns

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday directly criticized Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont over his record on guns, drawing a sharp contrast with one of his top rivals on an issue that is important to many Democratic voters.

Mr. Biden faulted Mr. Sanders for voting in favor of a 2005 bill to shield gun manufacturers from liability lawsuits. Mr. Biden said that the “first thing I’ll do as president is work to get rid of that.”

Mr. Biden also criticized Mr. Sanders for voting against the Brady Bill, which required background checks for gun purchases, in the 1990s. Mr. Sanders faced criticism on both of those fronts from Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race.

Here is a transcript:

BIDEN: Well, look, here’s the deal. The biggest mistake that Bernie made, that Senator Sanders made, he voted to give the gun manufacturers, the only major industry in America, a loophole that does not allow them to be sued for the carnage they are creating. First thing I’ll do as president is work to get rid of that. It’s going to be hard.

Think of all the thousands and thousands of people who died. And I might add, Bernie, while you were representing your constituency, an awful lot of people [unclear] gun state, and they’ve come around — in fact, all those folks in California, New York, Pennsylvania — they were getting killed by the thousands during this same period. I come from a state that’s a major gun-owning state. I introduced the first assault-weapons ban. I, in fact, got it passed. I’m the only guy that beat the N.R.A. twice. I was, while I was pushing the Brady background bill, background checks, Bernie voted five times against it when he was in the House.

So, look, the other thing is that we have to be held accountable for the things we did. I’m the guy that set up drug courts. I set them up. I wrote it into law, and it never got funded. And also on opioids, I’m the guy who’s already begun to make a down payment. In the Cures Act, I put in $1 billion to fight opioid addiction. And lastly — my time is going to be up shortly — here’s the deal. Those chief executive officers of those drug companies, they should not only be fined, they should go to jail.

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