Sen. Cory Booker will unveil a suite of proposals Monday to reform the nation’s gun laws in what his campaign describes as “the most sweeping plan ever put forth by a presidential candidate” to address gun violence.
“My plan to address gun violence is simple,” the New Jersey Democrat said in a statement. “We will make it harder for people who should not have a gun to get one.”
Gun violence is poised to be a prominent issue in the Democratic presidential primary, with the party’s voters overwhelmingly in favor of expanding background checks and banning high-capacity magazines and assault weapons. Booker’s plan would push those reforms.
The proposal would make gun licenses the federal standard, similar to a driver’s license or a passport – requiring fingerprints, an interview, and completion of a gun safety course.
His plan also calls for banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks; expanding background checks to include purchases from unlicensed sellers, and closing the “Charleston loophole” that enabled Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof to purchase a gun when the FBI did not complete his background check during the mandatory three-day waiting period.
Booker calls for a holistic approach that would also designate funding for research on gun violence and community-based programs, while increasing the budget for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, among other ideas.
In addition to a laundry list of changes that would require action by Congress, likely to pose a heavy political lift, Booker would also take executive actions beginning on his first day as president, his campaign said.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that aired Sunday on “State of the Union,” Booker underscored how his personal experience with gun violence in Newark has fueled his urgency to push for a solution.
“This is not an intellectual issue to me,” Booker told Tapper, standing on the corner where 28-year-old Shahad Smith was gunned down last year. “It’s not something I read about, hear about in the news. You’re standing in a community that has been plagued by gun violence.”
“I’m going to come at this like folks have never seen before,” Booker added.
Fellow 2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris of California recently outlined a series of executive actions she would take to address gun violence in her first 100 days as president. Meanwhile, California Rep. Eric Swalwell has oriented his presidential campaign around the gun control, pledging at a Florida town hall last month “that this issue comes first.”
In a CNN town hall in South Carolina in March, Booker promised to “bring a fight like the NRA has never seen.” As part of his new policy proposal, Booker would call on the IRS to investigate the NRA’s tax-exempt status.
He promised the same fight Monday morning, telling CNN’s Jim Sciutto on “Newsroom” that he plans to go after the NRA as well as “those people who don’t stand with the majority of Republicans who believe we should be taking steps to end the carnage in America.”
“I will not only lead this fight, but we will win this fight,” he added.
But Booker has stressed that he comes at the issue from a unique perspective, as the only candidate who lives in an inner city, who also grappled with gun violence firsthand as mayor. Indeed, just minutes after Booker wrapped his interview with Tapper, two people were wounded in a drive-by shooting nearby.
“I’m running for president for many reasons. This is one,” Booker said, adding, “We will get it done.”