The first Democratic primary debate between the final two candidates found former Vice President Joe Biden repeating misleading claims about firearm manufacturers, and sadly it’s one of his favorite attack lines that he tees up time and again.
Hillary Clinton tried the same tactic in 2015. Politifact labeled it “false” then, and it’s still false now.
Sunday night’s one-on-one debate between U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden was focused on the current Coronavirus crisis. During one stretch, though, Biden went on the attack about Sen. Sanders’ previous support of the bipartisan Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), legislation signed into law under President George W. Bush.
Framing False Claims
Biden took swipes at Sen. Sanders. “This man voted against the Brady bill…five times. Background checks – five times. Number one,” Biden said. “Number two, this man…is one of the few Democrats I know who voted to exempt the gun industry from being able to be sued…We should be able to sue drug companies. We should be able to sue tobacco companies. We cannot sue the gun manufacturers because he voted for that years ago.”
Not surprisingly, Biden is completely wrong.
The PLCCA does not totally exempt firearm manufacturers from all liability. Just like other industries, including auto makers, drug companies and others, firearm manufactures can be held liable for defective products, breach of warranty, criminal misconduct and other behaviors for which they are directly responsible. This is no different from a car company being held liable for defective air bags, but not when a drunk driver kills a pedestrian. Biden knows this and continues his deceptive claims.
More likely, the former vice president isn’t concerned about the facts regarding firearms. He’s made a point of his campaign to put firearm manufacturers on notice, stating “I’m coming for you. Period.” He’s also argued with law-abiding Second Amendment advocates about his gun control platform, pronounced that he’ll install former U.S. Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D – Texas) as his gun control sheriff, falsely claimed nearly half the U.S. population was killed by criminal misuse of guns and received the endorsement and financial backing of three of the nation’s largest gun control groups for his campaign.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has been in the political arena for decades. He knows words matter. He also knows there’s not just a pattern of exaggeration, but knows voters are paying attention and challenging him on his gun grabs. Doubling down shows those in the firearm industry, the man who wants to be the next chief executive is nothing more than a lying dog-faced pony soldier.