FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — The sister of a teacher killed in the Sandy Hook massacre is offering to open a dialogue with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders after he told a New York newspaper’s editorial board that he opposes the right of shooting victims to sue gunmakers.
“What Bernie Sanders said to the New York Daily News was not only offensive but was insensitive and disrespectful to the families involved,” Jillian Soto of Stratford, sister of Victoria Soto, said in a conference call hosted by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “My family would gladly sit down with Mr. Sanders to discuss his comments about our lawsuit. He doesn't know the pain that my family has been going through since Dec. 14, 2012.”
Sanders' comments came Friday with the New York Daily News’ editorial board:
Daily News: There's a case currently waiting to be ruled on in Connecticut. The victims of the Sandy Hook massacre are looking to have the right to sue for damages the manufacturers of the weapons. Do you think that that is something that should be expanded?
Sanders: Do I think the victims of a crime with a gun should be able to sue the manufacturer, is that your question?
Daily News: Correct.
Sanders: No, I don't.
But Sanders later clarified his comment, saying that “gun manufacturers and gun dealers should be able to be sued when they should know that guns are going into the hands of wrong people.”
Sanders said he did not support the sale of assault weapons when he ran for Congress in 1988 and does not currently believe they should be sold in the country now.
“I do not believe, I didn't believe then and I don't believe now, that those guns should be sold in America. They're designed for killing people,” he told the Daily News.
Gun control is a divisive issue in the 2016 presidential campaign, particularly between Clinton and Sanders as they compete for the Democratic nomination.
Clinton's website says that she would “hold irresponsible dealers and manufacturers accountable.” U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, whose district includes Newtown, agrees with Clinton’s stance.
"One of the many reasons that I support Hillary Clinton is because I know she has the passionate, courageous, persistent leadership on this issue and has for decades. And that is exactly what it's going to take to defeat the gun lobby,” Esty said.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a staunch proponent of gun control, took to Twitter in December to scold his colleagues for their inaction on the issue. He called Sanders’ recent comments “disturbing.”
"Senator Sanders' continued focus on shielding the firearms industry from responsibility for the gun violence epidemic is hard to understand,” Murphy said. “His comments earlier this week in an interview that he gave to the New York Daily News are disturbing. In that interview, he said with disturbing clarity that he does not support the ability of Sandy Hook parents to sue the gun manufacturers, in order to be made whole for the murder of their children.”
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