Presidential Candidate Cory Booker Advocates for National Gun Licensing Program

Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) unveiled a sweeping plan on Monday, May 6 to combat gun violence. The plan includes licensing all gun owners through the federal government.

The licensing requirement is part of a 14-point gun reform plan Booker hopes to initiate if he were elected president in the 2020 election. The presidential hopeful said the program would be just like renewing a passport, and that anyone who wants to purchase a gun would have to provide background information, fingerprints, and documents verifying the completion of a gun safety course. “My plan to address gun violence is simple — we will make it harder for people who should not have a gun to get one,” Booker said in a statement to The North Star.

To gain a license, the FBI would need to verify a background check and the license would be good for five years, according to a Medium post detailing the plan. Only 13 states and the District of Columbia require gun owners to have some type of license before they can purchase a weapon, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Under Booker’s program, states that already have licensing programs would have to meet the requirements of the new plan. Alicia Samuels, the director of communications at The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, told The North Star that licensing programs have reduced gun deaths.

“Our research has clearly demonstrated [that] when background checks are part of a licensing system, we will see less homicides and suicides,” Samuels said. Booker's plan also includes to ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and bump stocks, along with providing funding to research on gun violence as a public health issue.

“As president, we will make commonsense changes to our gun laws such as requiring a license to purchase a gun that includes universal background checks, banning assault weapons, and closing the loopholes that allow domestic abusers and people on terrorist watch lists to get their hands on a gun," Booker said in a statement to The North Star. "I am sick and tired of hearing thoughts and prayers for the communities that have been shattered by gun violence - it is time for bold action.”

Booker is not the only Democratic presidential hopeful to propose gun control measures if elected. Last month, Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) discussed a timeline for passing gun control measures. “Upon being elected, I will give the United States Congress 100 days to get their act together and have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws. And if they fail to do it, then I will take executive action,” Harris said during a CNN town hall at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.

Harris’ gun control proposal would “mandate near-universal background checks” for gun retailers that sell five or more firearms a year, according to her website. Retailers who break the law would have their gun manufacturers and dealers licenses revoked.

The California Senator’s plan would also reverse the Trump administration’s definition of “fugitive from justice,” which allowed thousands of people with outstanding arrest warrants to purchase guns. Her plan would prohibit a wanted person from purchasing a firearm. The proposal also includes ending the “boyfriend loophole,” and would prevent people convicted of domestic violence from purchasing firearms.

“We’re not waiting for a good idea — we have good ideas. We’re not waiting for another tragedy — we have seen the worst human tragedies we can imagine. What’s missing is Republicans in Washington having the courage to stand up to the NRA,” the proposal on Harris’ page read.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in December found that 39,773 people were killed by a gun in 2017, an increase of more than 10,000 people since 1999.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.