Ending the Gun Violence Epidemic

To make justice real for everyone, we must end the epidemic of gun violence. That’s why Cory Booker made the most sweeping gun violence prevention proposal ever put forth by a presidential candidate.

The plan starts with a simple idea: If you need a license to drive a car, you should need a license to buy and possess a gun. Cory’s plan would implement a national gun licensing program. A mounting body of evidence shows that gun licensing programs are effective at reducing gun violence.

For example, in Connecticut, researchers found a 40 percent drop in gun homicides and a 15 percent reduction in firearm suicides after the state passed a law requiring a purchasing license for handguns. Massachusetts, a state with a gun license program, had 3.6 gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2016, compared to neighboring New Hampshire, which had a gun death rate of 9.9 per 100,000 people and does not have a comprehensive gun licensing program.

Cory’s plan to end the epidemic of gun violence includes a comprehensive list of policy changes he would pursue as president that would keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them, hold the gun industry accountable, and reduce gun violence.

Cory's Plan to End the Epidemic of Gun Violence

Keep Guns Out of the Wrong Hands with Gun Licensing:

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 safety and training standards necessary to own a gun. The proposal to enact minimum standards for gun ownership builds on rigorous evidence at the state level demonstrating the connection between gun licensing and reduction in gun violence.

Individuals could seek a gun license at a designated local office, widely available in urban and rural areas, similar to applying for or renewing a passport. They would submit fingerprints, provide basic background information during an appointment, and demonstrate completion of a certified gun safety course. 

The FBI would then verify submission of required materials and run a comprehensive background check before issuing a federal gun license, after which the license-holder could freely purchase and own firearms. The license would be valid for up to five years before renewal with regular, automatic checks to flag non-compliance with license terms. 

Recognizing that many states have already implemented state licensure programs, states could continue to do so, provided that they meet baseline federal standards.

Bring Real Regulation and Oversight to Gun Manufacturers: 

Nowadays, there is more regulation over toy guns than real ones. While medicine, children’s toys, and any number of other consumer products are subject to regulation by the federal government, firearms are exempt. In other words, gun manufacturers have little incentive to make their products safer.  Cory will work to close this loophole in federal oversight and allow the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure gun safety by making safety warnings and issuing recalls for faulty firearms. 

End Legal Immunity that Prevents Victims of Gun Violence from Seeking Justice: 

While civil liability can be applied to sellers and manufacturers of nearly every product, as a result of a 2005 law the gun industry is immune from nearly all lawsuits. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) allows the gun industry to ignore public safety implications of the misuse of their products such as gun trafficking. Cory will fight to end gun industry immunity by repealing PLCAA and allow victims of gun violence to have their day in court when a gun dealer or manufacturer has acted negligently.

Require Handgun Microstamping:

Microstamping is technology that allows law enforcement to identify the source of ammunition used in crimes by making a shell casing traceable to the specific gun that fired the round.  Unfortunately, in many cases, there is little evidence left behind at crime scenes, resulting in a homicide “clearance rate” of just 62 percent. Microstamping technology would allow law enforcement to trace crime guns as soon as a shell casing is found, helping to prevent future crimes from occurring. Cory will fight to require that microstamping technology be incorporated into new models of semi-automatic handguns sold in the United States. 

Close the “Boyfriend Loophole”:

While current law forbids a spouse or formerly married partner convicted of abuse or under a restraining order from purchasing a firearm, the same commonsense rule does not always extend to non-felony abuse at the hands of dating partners or former dating partners. The risk of homicide in a domestic violence incident increases by 500 percent with the presence of a gun. Cory will make closing the “boyfriend loophole” a top priority.

Ensure a Background Check on Every Gun Sale by Closing the Loophole on Gun Show and Online Sales and the So-called “Charleston Loophole.” 

Background checks are foundational to any gun safety policy, but loopholes in current law allow individuals to purchase guns in private sales from strangers without a background check. Current law requires that federally licensed firearm dealers conduct background checks on individuals seeking to purchase a firearm in commercial transactions, but prohibited purchasers—such as criminals and domestic abusers—can exploit this loophole simply by finding an unlicensed seller. More than 90 percent of American voters—and nearly 70 percent of NRA members—support universal background checks.

Ban Assault Weapons, High-capacity Magazines, and Bump Stocks:

Large capacity ammunition magazines and assault weapons have been present in many mass shootings in the US, made for no other purpose than to kill people quickly and efficiently. 

Provide Dedicated Funding for Research on Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue:

For the first time in modern history, the CDC announced that deaths from gun violence surpassed automobile accidents.  Automobiles have become safer, in part, as a result of federal investment in research, but Congress has not provided federal funds to research gun safety. After nearly two decades of shameful inaction, Cory will make a significant investment into research on gun violence, including into evidence-based approaches to reducing gun suicide.

Modernize and Strengthen the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF):

As a result of relentless lobbying by the gun lobby, the ATF is drastically underfunded and has its hands tied. According to reporting by the New York Times, in the year beginning in October 2016, while more than half of inspections of licensed firearm dealers were cited for violations, less than one percent led to the loss of a license. Cory will increase funding at ATF and will repeal the restrictive riders on ATF’s budget that restrict law enforcement’s ability to investigate crimes and crackdown on gun dealers. 

Support Extreme Risk Prevention Order Laws:

An extreme risk protection order (ERPO) empowers family members or law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from individuals showing warning signs of hurting themselves or others. Cory will incentivize states to pass ERPO laws, along with robust due process protections.

Limit Gun Buyers to One Handgun Per Month:

Limiting bulk purchases of firearms is essential to combating gun trafficking. Under current federal law, which contains no limit on the number of firearms one can purchase, traffickers will make bulk purchases in states with weak gun laws and then resell in states with stricter rules.

Require Firearm Owners to Report Lost or Stolen Firearms:

Researchers estimate that the majority of lost or stolen firearms are never reported, which limits the ability of law enforcement to trace the source of guns used in crimes. When law enforcement is able to trace a crime gun to the purchaser of record, he/she will often claim that it was lost or stolen to deny responsibility. Cory will take the commonsense step to require gun owners to report their lost and stolen firearms, building on evidence that shows a correlation between the enactment of state reporting laws with major reductions in illegal gun trafficking.  

Ramp up Funding for Community-based Violence Intervention Programs:

Cory will direct new federal funding to support evidence-based programs similar to those he supported as mayor of Newark. According to a recent report by the Giffords Law Center, adopting a strategy of relationship-driven social services and more narrowly-targeted law enforcement interventions allowed Oakland, CA to cut annual shootings and homicides in half. Additionally, Cory will provide grant funding to local law enforcement to combat gun violence to adopt new technology, including acoustic gunshot detection systems.

Increase Trauma Support for Survivors and Communities Impacted by Gun Violence:

Cory will fight for resources and support for families and communities impacted by the scourge of gun violence.

Call on the IRS to Conduct an Investigation into the NRA’s Tax Status:

Currently, the NRA is exempt from federal tax under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. Cory is calling on the IRS to investigate whether certain activities recently reported in the news media should lead to revocation of its tax-exempt status.  

Finally, beginning on Day One in office, Cory will take executive action to build on ongoing efforts and take concrete steps forward—losing dangerous loopholes in gun sales, cracking down on unscrupulous dealers and gun manufacturers, and investing in communities impacted by gun violence. 

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