Amanda Becker –
US Senator Cory Booker on Monday released a sweeping plan to curb gun violence by creating a national licensing programme and repealing a law that gives gun manufacturers legal immunity, becoming the latest Democrat in the 2020 presidential race to make gun control measures a feature
of their campaign.
In the past, Democrats have feared that supporting gun restrictions could cost them the backing of working-class, swing voters — the group widely credited with tipping the 2016 presidential contest to Republican Donald Trump.
After dozens of mass shootings in recent years, however, including at schools like the February 2018 massacre in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead, curbing gun violence has become a component of the Democratic policy platform embraced by congressional and presidential candidates.
“In my community, kids fear fireworks on the Fourth of July because they sound like gunshots,” Booker said of his hometown of Newark. “In communities across the country, from Newark to Charlotte, from San Diego to Chicago, and everywhere in between, Americans are being killed and families are being torn apart. We must do better. We need to do better.”
Booker’s plan would also ban assault weapons; allow the Consumer Product Safety Commission to regulate gun manufacturers; require microstamping technology be incorporated into new models of semi-automatic handguns; calls for universal background checks for gun sales; and close the “boyfriend loophole” that allows dating partners to purchase firearms after being convicted of abuse or under a restraining order. Current and former spouses convicted of abuse or under a restraining order are prohibited from purchasing a firearm.
Most but not all components of Booker’s plan would require approval of the Congress. Democrats currently control the House of Representatives and Republicans the Senate, where gun safety legislation would meet intense pushback.
“Today is more proof that the centre has shifted on gun control,” Igor Volsky, founder of Guns Down America Action Fund, said in a statement. “Senator Booker has clearly listened to and heard from the majority of Americans that are crying out for a future with fewer guns. Fewer guns means safer communities.” Senator Kamala Harris, another 2020 contender, said last month that she too would move quickly to curb gun violence if elected to the White House.
Harris said she would give Congress 100 days to pass gun-control legislation, such as a universal background checks bill or a renewal of the ban on assault weapons, before using presidential executive power to act on the issue.
Harris said she would use executive power to require sellers of five or more weapons a year to run background checks for all gun sales; revoke the licence of gun manufacturers and dealers who break the law; reverse a move by Trump to redefine “fugitive from justice” that allowed those with outstanding arrest warrants to buy guns; and close the boyfriend loophole.
Reuters/Ipsos polling in February 2019 showed that 58 per cent of Americans support policies that would make it more difficult to own a gun. About 69 per cent said they strongly favoured prohibiting individuals with a history of mental illness from buying a firearm. About 61 per cent strongly or somewhat favoured banning online sales of ammunition. — Reuters