Booker: Requiring Federal Gun License ‘Absolutely’ Constitutional

By Melanie Arter | September 4, 2019 | 12:14pm EDT
(Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)

( – Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) told MSNBC’s “All in with Chris Hayes” on Tuesday that his plan to end gun violence by requiring a federal gun license is “absolutely” constitutional even with the court’s jurisprudence.

“There's really interesting polling on gun control right now, gun safety measures that are showing higher levels of support than there have been for a while, and one thing jumped out at me was from Quinnipiac poll. Do you support requiring a license to purchase a gun? 82%, which it's a very polarized country. You don't get a lot of 82 percent. That's part of your campaign platform. What do you think of that number?” Hayes asked.


“First of all, when we came out on this, a number of people in the democratic field took potshots at me calling for licensing. It is something that works. It is evidence-based. Connecticut did it. Shootings dropped 45%. Suicides dropped 15%. It is common sense. Someone who needs to drive a car. Shouldn't you be licensed to buy and possess a firearm?” Booker said.

Asked if his plan is constitutional even with the court’s jurisprudence, the senator said, “I absolutely think so.”


“Most people, we have restrictions on our First Amendment rights - common sense restrictions like this. Law-abiding citizens have nothing to worry about purchasing a gun. This will dramatically stop the ability for people who want to do horrendous things to get weapons,” Booker said.

Hayes said he didn’t know how many votes are in the Senate to support required federal gun licensing. He projected there could be 30 votes in favor of it in the chamber, and he said there is a gap between what the public is saying to pollsters and “what the institutions of our various political leadership views as the frontier of the possible.”

Booker shared his perspective as “the one guy in the Senate that lives in a neighborhood where people get shot.” He recalled the murder of Shahad Smith, a man Booker knew who previously lived above him in the Brick Towers housing development in Newark, N.J., who was gunned down in March 2018.

The reason why I came out so early with a bold plan which includes things like licensing, which put my own party on notice, that you should not have to wait until a mass shooting comes to your state, your community, your neighborhood to feel this sense of urgency.

I wanted to move the national conversation, and so I -- when you say only getting 30 something votes, I'm telling you right now that our party needs to get on board with bold vision on what's going to protect our country, because governments are formed for the common defense.

We've lost more people in the last 50 years to gun violence in our country than in every single war in America combined. The carnage is going up. We've seen -- the terrorist attacks that we're having, the majority since 9/11 have been right wing extremist groups. The majority of those white supremacist groups. We have to understand that we are in a dangerous perilous time. And if our party is not leading with a vision to protect our country, then what the hell are we -- why are we forming?

And again, as a guy who’s coming from a community, and remember, the majority of people murdered in our country are black men, and this to me is not something -- there should be moral clarity on this and that's why I came out with the kind of bold plan I have.




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