Senator Bernie Sanders joined students participating in a national walkout to protest gun violence outside the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Wednesday. But while his appearance was cheered by those in attendance, it garnered predictable criticism in conservative circles.
It was not merely his surprise presence at the event, however, that attracted a backlash but rather the appearance alongside him of multiple armed police officers.
Videos and photos of the event showed students reacting with frenzied excitement to the arrival of the independent senator from Vermont, who was helped through the mass crowds, shaking hands and greeting protesters, via a police accompaniment.
The images led to calls of hypocrisy on conservative news sites such as the Daily Caller.
— The Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) March 14, 2018
— Sami Kuisma (@KuismaSami) March 14, 2018
What’s wrong with this picture? Yup Bernie Sanders at an anti gun rally with students being protected w/armed police officers for security pic.twitter.com/IR38rj1CvJ
— Deanna (@Deezy1) March 14, 2018
It is far from the first time that gun-rights advocates have aimed accusations of hypocrisy toward those who call for stricter gun control while receiving armed security. In 2016, gun-rights groups called for Democrats to bar all armed security at the Democratic National Convention.
“Gun owners are demanding that the Democratic party practice what it preaches,” read a petition from the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. “If a political party believes that guns do not make us safer, they should set an example by rejecting any and all forms of armed security at their convention.”
Similar attacks have been used against celebrities who have called for tighter gun controls while enjoying protection by armed security. It has been noted, though, that the likes of Sanders, and others calling for stronger legislation, have never called for firearms to be taken away from trained professionals, but rather to expand background checks to ensure they don’t get into the wrong hands.
Sanders, however, has a murky history on gun control legislation, something that was used by Hillary Clinton to attack him during the 2016 Democratic primary.
Students walked out of school and took to the streets Wednesday as part of growing calls for gun control in the wake of a shooting at a high school in Florida last month that killed 17 people.