Biden slams Sanders and 'cowards' in Congress over gun violence

Joe Biden is focusing his campaign on gun violence ahead of Saturday's Nevada...

Posted: Feb 20, 2020 9:39 PM

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.

Standing behind Biden were family members of gun violence victims and gun control advocates -- many of whom were members of Moms Demand Action, the grassroots arm of a group largely funded by Michael Bloomberg. The walls were plastered with new signs that read "Beat the NRA with Biden." He was introduced by a woman whose 4-year-old daughter had been killed by a stray bullet, and Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford of Nevada, whose father was killed when Horsford was 19.

Visit CNN's Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race

Biden began by declaring it a beautiful morning and noting that the sun was shining. But, he said, by the end of the day, 100 Americans would be dead because of gun violence -- "another normal day in America."

"Normal has become a living nightmare," he said.

Biden at one point criticized Sanders, the Democratic presidential front-runner, by name for his votes against gun control measures in the 1990s, including the Brady Act, which mandated federal background checks and a waiting period for some handgun purchases.

Afterward, he acknowledged that Sanders now supports gun control measures.

"I do think he's changed his views. I'm happy for that," Biden said.

The increased focus on gun violence marks an important turn in Biden's message after weak finishes in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

For most of his campaign Biden's message has looked backward at his record in former President Barack Obama's administration, and focused on his perceived electability -- a factor outside the former vice president's control.

But on gun violence, Biden connected his own record that predates Obama to a forward-looking vision for his own administration, as the presidential race shifts to states that have been the sites of mass shootings -- including the 2015 Charleston church massacre in South Carolina and the August 2019 shooting in El Paso, Texas, one of 14 states that votes on Super Tuesday.

Biden was the only candidate to bring up gun violence in Wednesday night's debate in Nevada. He has focused television advertisements on the issue. And at a Nevada caucus kick-off dinner, Biden pledged that he would "not rest" on the issue until his "last breath."

The former vice president on Thursday focused on requiring universal background checks for gun purchases, banning the sale of high-capacity magazines and assault-style rifles, and repealing civil liability protections for gun manufacturers.

He called those protections "flat-out immoral." Pounding on his podium and shouting, Biden said that in the United States, there have been "150,000 people murdered since 2005."

"You know, any one of you and the people behind me should be able to walk into a court of law and demand that gun manufacturers with their enormous profits be held accountable for the carnage they're responsible for inflicting on society," Biden said. "I promise you, if I'm our next president, they're going to be held accountable, because I'm coming after them."

He said those civil liability protections are unique to the gun industry -- and compared them in personal terms to heavily regulated industries such as tobacco and oil companies, auto manufacturers, pharmaceutical drug and chemical-makers.

"Why are guns different? Because of cowardice," he said. "Because of cowards that are afraid to take on the special interests because they're so damn powerful."

"I will not rest until we beat these guys," Biden said.

Huntsville
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 57°
Florence
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 62°
Fayetteville
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 55°
Decatur
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 57°
Scottsboro
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 54°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 137564

Reported Deaths: 2399
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson20221352
Mobile13558295
Tuscaloosa9029118
Montgomery8894187
Madison800580
Shelby616450
Lee601761
Baldwin564052
Marshall398345
Etowah357545
Calhoun356944
Morgan334929
Houston295421
Elmore273948
DeKalb246121
St. Clair237937
Walker236987
Talladega219030
Limestone215720
Cullman192220
Dallas179926
Franklin179430
Autauga179127
Russell17903
Lauderdale175934
Colbert168426
Blount162915
Escambia162024
Jackson161112
Chilton160930
Dale141844
Covington141628
Coffee13936
Pike122011
Chambers117942
Tallapoosa117385
Clarke110916
Marion97629
Butler91740
Barbour8967
Winston75112
Marengo72820
Pickens67215
Randolph67213
Bibb66411
Lowndes65927
Hale65328
Geneva6505
Lawrence63625
Cherokee62013
Bullock61015
Clay5929
Monroe5928
Washington56012
Crenshaw54532
Perry5436
Conecuh53811
Wilcox53211
Henry5145
Macon48318
Fayette47311
Sumter43419
Cleburne4085
Lamar3822
Choctaw35212
Greene30615
Coosa1743
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 196139

Reported Deaths: 2454
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby31202472
Davidson26874312
Hamilton968795
Knox968180
Rutherford952392
Williamson542336
Sumner492298
Wilson360547
Putnam338344
Montgomery317446
Unassigned30834
Madison306366
Bradley298817
Out of TN293927
Sevier267715
Blount258924
Maury245726
Washington239338
Sullivan226533
Robertson225539
Hamblen196528
Tipton186019
Gibson174625
Trousdale16757
Hardeman158926
Wayne15055
Dyer143017
Bedford138017
Coffee130214
Dickson129716
Fayette123621
Weakley123421
Loudon12267
Anderson122413
Cumberland122319
Obion122011
Carter119928
Henderson119524
Greene118546
McMinn117626
Jefferson116114
Lawrence110814
Warren10857
Monroe108319
Hardin107716
Macon107021
Lauderdale101716
Franklin101010
Haywood100623
McNairy93018
Lake9282
Carroll91720
Roane9176
Bledsoe8644
Rhea86315
White85610
Hawkins84320
Cheatham8289
Marshall7915
Overton7826
Cocke75910
Johnson7523
Smith74511
Giles65417
Chester65311
Lincoln6461
Henry64010
Hickman6128
Fentress5884
DeKalb57614
Crockett55819
Marion5558
Decatur5387
Campbell4674
Claiborne4495
Polk41010
Grainger4043
Union3822
Benton3428
Jackson3355
Grundy3266
Morgan3253
Cannon3041
Unicoi2921
Humphreys2683
Sequatchie2493
Clay2435
Houston2432
Meigs2313
Scott2252
Stewart2232
Lewis2111
Moore1881
Van Buren1670
Perry1530
Pickett1312
Hancock1093

Community Events