Las Vegas (CNN) – Joe Biden is focusing his campaign on gun violence ahead of Saturday’s Nevada caucuses, criticizing Bernie Sanders by name and accusing “cowards” in Congress of being scared into inaction by the National Rifle Association.
The former vice president delivered one of his most focused, forceful speeches of the 2020 race Thursday in Las Vegas — the site of the deadliest mass shooting in American history, where a gunman killed 58 concertgoers in 2017.
Biden touted his work “helping lead the fight” to pass the Brady Bill that created a system of background checks in a speech Thursday in Las Vegas.
“We don’t grant that kind of immunity to any other major industry. Not the tobacco industry. Not the pharmaceutical industry. Just gun manufacturers. It’s immoral,” Biden said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.
“And I think it’s one of the worst votes Senator Sanders has ever taken,” Biden added, referencing Sanders’s vote against the bill in the 1990s.
Biden similarly hit Sanders with an ad Thursday, seemingly going after Sanders’s vote for a bill in 2003 and 2005 that effectively protected gun manufacturers against lawsuits.
“I don’t know that you hold a gun manufacturer responsible for what obviously a deranged person does,” Sanders said in the interview clip used in the Biden ad.
Biden pointed out Sanders’ voting against the 1993 Brady Bill that imposed mandatory background checks and waiting periods for gun purchases. He also mentioned Sanders’ support for a 2005 federal law that shielded gun manufacturers, distributors and dealers from civil liability for mass shootings.
Sanders has said his views on gun control have changed, along with the American public, in response to what he has called incidents of “terrible, frightening gun violence” in recent years.
Biden recently told voters to make this year, 2020, the year of gun control, essentially telling folks to rally around the progressive platform and strip gun rights away from law-abiding citizens.