Hillary Clinton Linking Sandy Hook To Bernie Sanders' Gun Policies Proves This Election Has Entered New Territory

Following Bernie Sanders' victories over Hillary Clinton in Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, and Wisconsin, both Democratic campaigns have been escalating their efforts to win their party's nomination. In the past week alone, Sanders and Clinton have directly and indirectly questioned each other's qualifications. Clinton has accused the Sanders campaign of lying about her receiving donations from fossil fuel companies, while Sanders has continued to attack Clinton's relationship with Wall Street. But on Wednesday, in a risky move that has elicited mixed reactions, Clinton said that Sanders did not stand with Sandy Hook families trying to file a lawsuit against gun manufacturers.

Clinton was alluding to a New York Daily News cover story in which Sanders told the tabloid's editorial board that he did not think families of shooting victims should be able to target gun dealers and gun manufacturers unless they knowingly put guns into the hands of the "wrong people." Sanders' record on guns has long been controversial among Democrats, who generally advocate for gun control, and Clinton's attack comes as part of a campaign in which she has repeatedly tried to position herself as the stronger candidate on the issue.

But reactions to Clinton's attack were varied. Some, like Erica Smegielski — the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, who was killed when she tried to protect her students and stop the mass shooting — called out Sanders.

Clinton even chimed in to defend Smegielski.

But while many agree with Clinton — including an Aurora shooting victim's stepfather, who is filing for bankruptcy after filing a failed lawsuit against a gun manufacturer — others say that Clinton should not have used Sandy Hook victims to attack Sanders.

And while Smegielski stood with Clinton, the relative of another Sandy Hook victim did not.

This is not the first time Sanders has articulated his position on gun manufacturers. During a Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan in March, Sanders argued that he was not in favor of holding gun manufacturers legally liable — after which the National Rifle Association said he was "spot-on," despite having given him a D-minus rating. Most recently, Sanders sat down for an interview with director Spike Lee, during which — after he was gently taken to task for not taking a strong enough position on gun violence — Sanders said, “In Vermont and rural America, when they talk about guns, they’re talking about hunting,” the senator said. "I do know that guns mean something very different around urban America.”