Law & the Courts

Booker Refuses To Say Whether His Plan Would Result in Jailed Gun Owners

Senator Cory Booker on Capitol Hill, May 1, 2019 (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Senator Cory Booker (D., N.J.) refused Monday to say definitively whether he would support the prosecution, and potential incarceration, of gun owners who refuse to turn over their assault-style weapons in compliance with the gun-control proposal he’s just released.

Asked by CNN’s Poppy Harlow whether he agrees with fellow Democratic presidential candidate Eric Swalwell’s plan to prosecute Americans who retain their banned assault-style weapons after a buy-back period, Booker evaded the question, choosing instead to recount his experience dealing with gun violence as the mayor of Newark.

“Well, first of all, when I was the mayor of the city of Newark again I have a record on dealing with gun violence,” Booker said. “We did a lot of gun buybacks and even other creative ideas that I think we should have when I’m president of the United States.”

Harlow responded: “But would you prosecute people, do you support the government buying them back and if not potentially people could go to jail if they don’t want to buy them back, yes or no?”

Booker again refused to specify how his administration would deal with Americans who refused to participate in a gun-buyback program.

“Again, we should have a law that bans these weapons and we should have a reasonable period in which people can turn in these weapons. Right now we have a nation that allows in streets and communities like mine these weapons that should not exist,” he said.

Booker’s gun-control proposal, which is the most restrictive yet unveiled by a Democratic 2020 presidential candidate, calls for the establishment of a national licensing program for gun owners. Before purchasing a gun, Americans would be required to sit for an interview, take a gun-safety class, and pass a criminal-background check.

The proposal would also ban assault-style weapons, bump-stocks, high-capacity magazines, and bulk purchasing.

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