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Cory Booker's Gun Control Plan: An Essential Reading List

Booker's proposal includes a gun licensing program, an assault weapons ban, and more support for victims and communities of gun violence.
Senator Cory Booker greets supporters as he arrives to speak during a campaign event on April 13th, 2019, in Newark, New Jersey.

Senator Cory Booker greets supporters as he arrives to speak during a campaign event on April 13th, 2019, in Newark, New Jersey.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker announced a progressive plan for gun control on Monday, including a gun licensing program and an assault weapons ban. Competing in a crowded pool for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Booker has sought to make gun control an integral component of his platform.

"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," Booker said in a Medium post announcing his gun violence prevention proposal.

Booker's proposed gun licensing program would increase the restrictions for gun purchases by enacting minimum national standards for gun ownership. Those who want to purchase a gun would have to go through an application process that includes submitting fingerprints, an interview, completion of a certified gun safety course, and a federal background check.

Booker's plan would also place limitations on items available for purchase. In addition to an assault weapons ban, the plan includes the prohibition of bump stocks, high-capacity magazines, and limitations on bulk purchase of firearms.

The plan also seeks to eliminate loopholes that have previously allowed domestic abusers and terrorists to acquire firearms. Booker has vowed to "bring a fight to the [National Rifle Association] like they have never ever seen before," including an investigation into whether the organization should retain its tax-exempt status.

In addition, Booker's plan would increase funding for community-based violence intervention programs and bolster trauma support for individuals and communities affected by gun violence.

To help frame what's at stake in Booker's proposal, here are some highlights from Pacific Standard's recent coverage.

  • Earlier this year, Tom Jacobs looked at research showing that small, incremental changes aren't an effective way to decrease gun violence—but bans on assault weapons have reduced the number of school shooting victims by 54.4 percent.
  • Guns now kill more people than cars. In January, David M. Perry investigated the deep contradictions between the safety regulations of guns versus cars, noting that, while technical innovation and policy shifts have made cars safer, gun regulations have moved in the opposite direction.
  • Last year, Jared Keller explored America's lackluster response after repeated mass shootings. He points out that disaster fatigue is real—and it often makes us feel helpless.
  • In February, Seth Masket wrote about how the left increasingly agrees on stricter gun control and its impact on the race for the Democratic nomination. He concluded, "[P]retty much all the major candidates are committed to gun control, and are not shy about admitting it."