Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D) first ran for his Vermont Senate seat in the 1990 election, a race he won in part because he was backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA). Sanders' Republican opponent, Peter Smith, had recently changed his mind to back an assault weapons ban, which the NRA found unacceptable.
"Bernie Sanders is a more honorable choice for Vermont sportsmen than Peter Smith," said the NRA's Wayne LaPierre at the time. "It is about integrity in politics." Though the NRA's backing did not single-handedly put Sanders in office, one exit poll showed that more than a third of his 1990 voters were influenced by the gun issue.
Today, Sanders' position on gun rights is still more nuanced than, for instance, the views of his primary rival, Hillary Clinton. However, Sanders has — like Smith — voted to ban semi-automatic weapons and bragged of his low rating from the NRA.
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