As Bernie Sanders attempts to solve his black-voter problem, he sat down with Killer Mike at the rapper’s Atlanta barber shop for a fascinating six-part conversation on economic policy, gun control, and social justice.
The one issue on which the pair disagreed: the right to own assault weapons.
“I’m from the South. I like guns a lot,” Killer Mike told the candidate he wholeheartedly endorsed last month. Sanders, the lone Democratic candidate seen as friendly to gun owners, hails from Vermont, the state with the least strict gun laws.
“I represent a group of people only 50 years into freedom,” Mike, a proud NRA member, explained of his stance. “I represent a group of people who are being killed by the people who their tax money pays.”
On that sentiment, the pair agreed. People have the right to own weapons to protect their families from violent outside forces.
But, asked Sanders, “Should somebody who has a criminal record or has a record of beating up his wife, should they be able to get a gun? I don’t think so.” The democratic socialist senator suggested “strong instant background checks” to root out such criminals.
A hesitant Killer Mike conceded the point, joking, “Then Bill O’Reilly can’t own a gun, because you know what he does,” referring to accusations that the Fox News star abused his ex-wife.
And the odd couple made their disagreement much clearer when the conversation moved to questions of whether citizens have the right to own so-called “assault weapons.”
“I say yes,” the rapper declared. “I really believe the part of the Constitution that says that’s our last defense against tyranny…. I don’t want the people I pay to be able to own something I don’t.”
He added: “The AR-15 replica that I can buy from a Walmart is not the same thing the servicemen use—it’s not fully automatic, I don’t have, oftentimes, the same magazine capacity that they will. And more likely than not, I’m not going to be engaged in a situation where I’m actually using it.”
“Well, that’s something we disagree on,” Sanders said.
“Respect,” Mike replied. “And that’s not enough to get me off the Bernie Sanders bus. I’d just like other gun owners to know that.”