Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) advocated for a “commonsense solution” to gun control policy on NBC’s Meet the Press during a campaign visit to New Orleans, just days after Thursday’s movie theater shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Sen. Sanders said laws already on the books regarding background checks need to be “stronger” and “more enforceable” to prevent people with histories of mental illness or criminal backgrounds from acquiring guns.
"Nobody should have a gun who has a criminal background, was involved in domestic abuse situations. People should not have guns who are going to hurt other people, who are unstable," Sanders said. "We need to make sure that certain types of guns used to kill people, exclusively, not for hunting, should not be sold in the United States of America."
John Russell “Rusty” Houser, the man who killed two and injured nine before turning the gun on himself in the movie theater two hours outside of New Orleans, had a history of minor arrests and mental illness.
Sanders cited his record as an advocate for certain gun control legislation in a state where gun rights are popular as evidence of his commitment to reducing gun violence.
“I come from a state which has virtually no gun control, and yet I voted to ban certain types of assault weapons, I voted to close the gun show loophole, and I voted for instant background checks.”
Despite the fact that gun control means something different in rural Vermont, where guns are used mostly for hunting, than it does in urban areas where violence is common, Sanders said “common ground” needed to be reached.
“Coming from a rural state, I think I can communicate with folks coming from urban states where guns mean different things than they do in Vermont where it's used for hunting," Sanders said. "That's where we've got to go. We don't have to argue with each other and yell at each other. We need a commonsense solution."
Also during his Louisiana trip, Sanders spoke on economic inequality – the issue seen as his go-to – and on civil rights and police brutality, condemning the police treatment of Sandra Bland when she was taken into custody.
This report contains material from the Associated Press.