New Jersey Senator Cory Booker wants to change how Americans access and purchase firearms on a wide scale.
On Monday, May 6, the Democratic presidential hopeful unveiled a 14-point plan that aims to curtail gun violence in the country, largely by changing the rules on how people obtain a gun. The plan quotes a speech Booker gave on April 13 in Newark, New Jersey, as part of the official kick-off for his 2020 campaign: "We won’t wait for more thoughts and prayers for communities that have been shattered by gun violence — from Pittsburgh to Parkland to Charleston to communities where kids fear the fireworks of Fourth of July because to them they sound like gunshots," he said, speaking to recent instances of mass violence, as well as the increasingly common PTSD felt by people who have experienced gun violence firsthand.
The plan begins with a roadmap towards creating stricter laws around gun licenses, which would be mandatory in all 50 states. Per Vox, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina currently require that people obtain a license prior to purchasing a handgun with varying degrees of severity; other states require background checks, but studies have shown that background checks don't have much of an impact on gun violence or suicide rates.
Essentially, Booker would want gun ownership to be treated like car ownership. "Just as a driver’s license demonstrates a person’s eligibility and proficiency to drive a car, a gun license demonstrates that a person is eligible and can meet certain basic safety and training standards necessary to own a gun," the plan explains. The plan would also aim to close what are known as the "Boyfriend Loophole" and the "Charleston Loophole," which anti-gun violence activists say circumvent background checks at the point of gun sale. The plan would also limit gun sales to one firearm per person per month, and ban assault weapons from the civilian marketplace.
The proposal aims to require handgun microstamping for semi-automatic handguns, and calls on the IRS to investigate the National Rifle Association's tax status. It also stresses the importance of providing healing spaces for those affected by gun violence; to that end, "Cory would fight for resources and support for families and communities impacted by the scourge of gun violence." The senator's plan further pledges to "make a significant investment into research on gun violence, including into evidence-based approaches to reducing gun suicide."
Booker's idea marks one of the few times a Democratic hopeful has offered concrete action regarding gun laws. In April, Senator Kamala Harris promised executive actions that would mandate background checks and close the "boyfriend loophole," as well as offer stronger regulation for gun manufacturers. As Mother Jones points out, California Rep. Eric Swalwell and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper have both called for the nation's gun laws to be assessed in their campaigns.