Hillary Clinton comes out swinging at Bernie Sanders on guns: "It's time our country stood up to the NRA"

The frontrunner adopts an aggressive tack against her insurgent challenger

Published October 14, 2015 1:30AM (EDT)

  (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/Carlo Allegri/Photo montage by Salon)
(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/Carlo Allegri/Photo montage by Salon)

Surprising many observers who expected her not to aggressively attack rival Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed the Vermont senator's mixed record on gun control during Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, saying that his stance on the issue was "not at all" tough enough.

Though Sanders backed the 2013 Manchin-Toomey bill to institute universal background checks, he also voted against the more comprehensive Brady Bill in the 1990s and supported lawsuit immunity for gun manufacturers. Still, Sanders emphasized to moderator Anderson Cooper, he supports a ban on assault weapons and voted for the 2013 legislation.

But Clinton was unimpressed.

Asked whether Sanders's stance on the issue was sufficiently strong, she deadpanned, "No. Not at all. It's time our country stood up to the NRA." She went on to assail Sanders for his stance on gun manufacturer liability.

"As a senator from a rural state, I can tell Secretary Clinton that all the shouting in the world ... is not going to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have guns," Sanders fired back.

Gun safety reform marks a rare issue where Clinton stands to Sanders's left, and her sharp response Tuesday night suggests a new willingness to draw direct contrasts on the topic.

By Luke Brinker

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Bernie Sanders Gun Safety Guns Hillary Clinton