Under Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) just-announced gun violence prevention proposal, gun owners would be required to obtain a license, complete a certified gun safety course, and pass an FBI background check. This permit would be valid for five years.
He describes his plan, posted on Medium (Beto O’Rourke’s travel diary of choice!) Monday morning, as “the most sweeping gun violence prevention proposal ever advanced by a presidenti al candidate.”
Though only a handful of 2020 contenders have spoken at length about their positions on gun control, the issue itself has taken on new importance in the Democratic primaries. Voters in the 2018 midterms identified gun control as one of the top issues when making a decision on who to vote for, and younger voters in particular — who are making up an ever-larger percentage of the electorate — are viewing the issue as something of a bellwether. Rep. Eric Swalwell’s (D-CA) entry into the race last month highlighted a growing shift in the way presidential campaigns address gun violence — namely, that it is addressed at all.
Booker’s proposal also calls for a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and bump stocks. He wants to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” — which permits individuals convicted of non-felony abuse of their former or current partners to buy guns — and the “Charleston loophole,” which allows the purchase of guns through private sales without a background check. The latter loophole is so named because of Dylann Roof, who murdered nine people at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. Roof should not have been able to buy a firearm but, due to a clerical error that caused a delay in completing his background check, acquired the gun he used to commit his heinous crimes.
The House recently passed two gun control bills, one of which addressed the Charleston loophole directly: It would extend the three-day background check waiting period to ten days. The other requires federal criminal background checks on all gun sales — including private sales. (President Trump has already said he will veto the bill if it reaches him.)
Booker also wants the IRS to investigate the NRA’s tax-exempt status, to determine whether the NRA’s actions of late merit the revocation of that designation. He proposes reinstating federal funds to research gun violence as a matter of public health, including CDC studies “into evidence-based approaches to reducing gun suicide.” He wants to increase funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to empower the organization to better investigate gun crimes.
In something of a contrast from his earlier rhetoric about police brutality and racism in policing, Booker promises to provide grant funding so local law enforcement can avail itself of new technology, “including acoustic gunshot detection systems.”
And though the details here are vague — “fight for resources and support” — Booker also says he wants to increase trauma support for the survivors and communities hit by gun violence.
On CBS This Morning, Booker, a former mayor and current resident of Newark, said gun violence is “an everyday experience for me and people in my community.” One of his proposals is modeled in part on programs that ran in Newark while he was mayor: To put federal funding behind community-based violence intervention programs.