Sen. Bernie Sanders had an opportunity to bridge the gap between the Democratic Party and Americans who lawfully own firearms. He made a miscalculation.

Bernie Sanders has represented the state of Vermont in both chambers of our Congress. Vermont has some of the most liberal gun laws of all of the states in our union. The gun laws in Vermont are so liberal, they could be called "conservative."

For years, Sanders was a casual supporter of the civil rights of Americans to own firearms. His record of supporting the rights of Americans as protected by the Second Amendment to our Constitution stretches across his years as a member of Congress.

"Vermont law allows any person age 16 or older to possess a handgun without the consent of a parent or guardian. There is no minimum age to possess a rifle or shotgun in Vermont," according to the liberal Giffords Law Center.

After decades of supporting the civil rights of Americans to own firearms, Sanders has switched his position in an effort to become president. His political calculation to abandon this long-held principle on civil rights is bad politics. It should also be a matter of serious concern to his grassroots supporters.

Bernie is a leader and his supporters appreciate his opinion on matters of policy. He could have explained his position on the Second Amendment to his supporters and most would have gone along with him because they believe in him.

By defending his long-held position on gun ownership, Bernie could have cut into the GOP base and become a fusion candidate in an evolving world of political allegiances. He could have been a leader on this issue.

Instead, Bernie has flip-flopped on this civil right – a right so obviously important to a free Republic that it was spelled out as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Bernie's cynical political calculation on civil rights has done nothing but hurt him.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at chris.mccarthy@townsquaremedia.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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