With friends like these.

At Sunday night's Democratic presidential debate, Bernie Sanders offered some pretty nuanced answers defending his gun record. At one point, he made the case against holding gun manufacturers liable for crimes committed with their product (emphasis ours).

If you go to a gun store and you legally purchase a gun, and then, three days later, if you go out and start killing people, is the point of this lawsuit to hold the gun shop owner or the manufacturer of that gun liable?

If that is the point, I have to tell you I disagree. I disagree because you hold people — in terms of this liability thing, where you hold manufacturers' liable is if they understand that they're selling guns into an area that — it's getting into the hands of criminals, of course they should be held liable.

But if they are selling a product to a person who buys it legally, what you're really talking about is ending gun manufacturing in America. I don't agree with that.

Sanders clearly has his reasons for offering answers like these; as he likes to note, he hails from a very pro-guns-rights rural state, and that has made explaining his record difficult at times. But in a Democratic Party that is increasingly focused on gun control, it's probably not doing him any favors to keep talking about it.

Also not doing him any favors is the National Rifle Association, which on Monday morning praised Sanders for his debate comments.

Also during Sunday's debate, Sanders made clear to emphasize that he has a D-minus rating from the NRA. Clearly, he doesn't want to be tied to the NRA. Apparently, the NRA has other ideas.

But why is the NRA doing this? It would almost seem as though they are punishing a Democrat for offering a middle-ground view on an issue of import to gun owners. Maybe they felt the need to point out that even Bernie Sanders is with them on such issues?

Whatever the case, Sanders would probably prefer they pipe down.