Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, standing on a Las Vegas stage roughly 1,000 feet from the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, took on White House rival Bernie Sanders for his past vote to exempt gun manufacturers from liability for shootings, The Associated Press informs.
The former vice president devoted the majority of his Saturday night speech at a Democratic gala on the Las Vegas Strip to deliver a fiery charge against the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers, vowing to hold gun makers accountable if elected president.
“When I’m the president, we’ll take them on, remove the immunity and allow those parents who are trying now to sue for the pain and mayhem they have caused,” Biden said on stage at the Tropicana casino-resort. The resort sits adjacent to the grounds where a gunman in 2017 unleashed a torrent of gunfire on a country music festival—an incident that only Biden referred to Saturday night.
Biden, after decrying “carnage in our streets” and the anguish of families whose loved ones were killed in gun violence, said he “will not rest until they’re able to sue the gun manufacturers and get a ban on assault weapons.”
Biden didn’t cite Sanders by name when referring to a 2005 federal law that shields gun makers from liability in most crimes, but said “some of the people running for office voted for that exemption.”
“Ladies and gentlemen that immunity was granted. Granted. And it was a horrible, horrible decision,” he said.
Sanders has since changed his position, co-sponsoring legislation to repeal the protections for gun manufacturers. He’s also called in his campaign this year for sweeping gun control measures, AP adds.
Biden’s speech came after a frenzied Saturday of campaigning across Las Vegas on the first day of early voting in Nevada’s Democratic caucuses. Biden, counting on Nevada’s diverse population to keep his campaign alive after disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, faces his biggest challenge in the Western state from Sanders. The progressive icon is seen as the most well-positioned in the state and has reached deep into Latino neighborhoods.