Sanders defends record on guns, 'Black Lives Matter'

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (I-Vt.) struck a defensive tone Sunday when asked about his record on gun control and civil rights – two areas in which he's under attack from his Democratic rivals.

In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sanders downplayed an encounter with dozens of “Black Lives Matter” protesters at an event for liberal activists in Phoenix last week.  

“I didn’t have a confrontation,” Sanders said, raising his voice at the host, Chuck Todd.

“I was there to speak about immigration reform. Some people thought about disrupting the meeting. The issue they raised was in fact a very important issue,” he added.

When asked about criticism that he had been dismissive of the movement, Sanders interrupted the host and said, “No, I’m not dismissive. I’ve been involved in the civil rights movement all of my life."

Sanders also went on the defensive after Todd asked him about gun control, quoting Sanders saying it was a difficult issue in a state like Vermont.

“That’s not what I said,” Sanders said, again interrupting the host. “I’m coming from a rural state, where guns meant different things [than urban states.]”

“We don't need to yell at each other and argue at each other, we need a commonsense solution,” he added.

Sanders’s position on gun control came the target of by former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s super PAC last week. The ads described Sanders as “no progressive when it comes to guns."