In 2015, Bernie Sanders was asked a question about gun control and answered as below:
Q: The parents of one of the 12 innocent people killed during the Aurora movie theater shooting, sued to hold ammunition sellers liable for the attack, but their lawsuit was dismissed. And one of the reasons was a law that you voted for which protects manufacturers of ammunition from being sued. Why did you vote that way?
SANDERS: We have been yelling and screaming at each other about guns for decades, with very little success. I come from a state that has virtually no gun control. But the people of my state understand, I think, pretty clearly, that guns in Vermont are not the same thing as guns in Chicago or guns in Los Angeles. In our state, guns are used for hunting. In Chicago, they’re used for kids in gangs killing other kids or people shooting at police officers, shooting down innocent people. We need a sensible debate about gun control which overcomes the cultural divide that exists in this country. And I think I can play an important role in this. [emphasis mine]
What the fuck.
So he’s saying that in Vermont, guns aren’t used for violence, only for hunting, while in Chicago they’re only used for “shooting down innocent people” and not for legal self-protection like in Vermont. There’s a problem with each facet of his statement, which a) ignores both inevitable violence when people have guns and b) assumes guns are only used for bad purposes in Chicago–really implying that it’s black/brown criminals who use guns for bad purposes there. Addressing each more in full:
a) Obviously crime happens in Vermont, and guns play no small part. For example, with regard to the number of women murdered by men, Vermont has the eighth highest rate of any state. Of the women killed by men they knew, three-quarters were intimate partners (wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends) and a full two-thirds were shot to death. So yeah, guns are used for “bad reasons” in Vermont, not just for hunting. These numbers get ignored since who cares about violence against women? They probably did something to deserve it.
b) Presumably a great deal of gun ownership in Chicago is for the same reason that Vermonters are obsessed with guns–self-protection. And I imagine a lot of those people, maybe gasp, even black and other colored people, own guns to protect themselves, not to commit crimes! Or people who live in Chicago might like to go hunting too! But who cares, black and brown people are all criminals, they shouldn’t be allowed to have guns. There’s no gangs in Vermont, no no.
This kind of attitude is why a lot of POC don’t like Sanders. He puts us into broadly generalized, usually negative categories and in the process, glosses over tremendously important issues that affect POC and/or women. As a WOC, this infuriates me. When push comes to shove, he is really going after blue-collared white male votes, and if we’re being honest, I don’t think they really care about my right to bodily integrity or wage equality or being murdered by a man whose advances I rejected, at least not in the place of unattainable unicorns like single-payer and free college.
Sanders supporters insist that this kind of attitude is confined to a few bad apple Berniebros, but I don’t believe it. And as much as people insist Sanders is ideologically pure and all that, he’s still a politician in a democratic system–and in such a system, it is his job as the representative of the people to do the will of the people. And whatever he personally believes about gun control, through his record Sanders has indicated that he bends to the will of his constituents. Which he should have done, since that’s what this system is supposed to do–have elected official represent the will of the people.
I get that things are messed up. But as Clinton haters like to say, “I just don’t trust him.” Unlike Clinton haters, I actually have an articulated reason. I know I won’t convince any Sanders supporters to instead support Clinton for this kind of thing, but I hope some Sanders supporters can understand why people like me haven’t jumped on the Sanders ship.