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Sanders Questions Why Trump Is Banning E-Cigarettes Before AR-15s

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Sanders Questions Why Trump Is Banning E-Cigarettes Before AR-15s

2019-09-12 17:25:051 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Bernie Sanders (Image source: AFGE via Wikimedia Commons)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has brought up a really interesting point. With the recent gun control debate, Democrats cannot get legislation to move that would support a ban on semi-automatic AR-15 type weapons, despite repeated mass shootings, with many of them using semi-automatic weapons. 

Yet, with the news that flavored e-cigarettes have led to a handful of deaths, Donald Trump has jumped in to suggest banning them. Sanders is suggesting now that Trump was moved to offer the ban on e-cigarettes so quickly, "Now do AR-15s."

Health officials are investigating more than 450 cases of lung disease that are linked to vaping. There have been six deaths within that group. Many of the people with lung disease admit to using cannabis-related products, but authorities aren't ruling out specific types of vaping. Some are pressing for regulations of conventional e-cigarettes which are often offered in flavors that are enticing to young people. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Ale Azar and Acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Norman E. "Ned" Sharpless took part in an Oval Office meeting with Trump and wife Melania.

Azar said the administration wants to "clear the market" of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the epidemic. Preliminary data from a 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows a rise in e-cigarette use among young people. More than a quarter of high school students have used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, which is up from a little over a fifth one year ago. 

Trump said, "We can't allow people to get sick. And we can't have our youth be so affected." He added that the first lady feels "very, very strong" about the issue because of Barron, their 13-year-old son. She tweeted a warning about vaping on Tuesday.

Sanders retweeted the news that the Trump administration is working on a flavored e-cigarette ban and simply wrote, "Now do AR-15s." 

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate has been in favor of banning assault weapons for years. Last year he said, "These weapons are not for hunting ... they're for killing human beings."

House Democrats are holding a hearing later this month on a bill to ban assault weapons. This legislation has 211 co-sponsors, seven less than what is needed to pass in the House.  

Two mass shootings last month within 24 hours increased the desire among many for more gun control laws. Stiffer background checks have been discussed as well as a ban on assault rifles. Trump said he was "all in favor" of background checks but didn't believe there'd be enough support to ban assault weapons.

He later backed off more background checks as well after he was leaned on by the NRA chief Wayne LaPierre. 

Democrats are leaning on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Trump to lend their support to gun legislation.

Certainly an argument can be made to create e-cigarette laws. There is limited legislation against them at this time since they are relatively new. This makes it easier for minors to obtain them. And when you look at a handful of deaths, certainly it's something to be considered. 

But how do you make that jump so easily from six deaths to a need to ban the products, yet the massive number of deaths caused by semi-automatic weapons leads to no legislation?

20 grade-school children as young as Kindergarten died in the Sandy Hook shooting, and nothing was done.  

Nothing.

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