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Cory Booker releases plan to reduce gun suicides

2020 Democratic contenders recap

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, is proposing a plan to reduce gun suicides by limiting the access to firearms for those who are at risk of self-harm.

The five-point plan includes the implementation of federal gun licensing program, which is a centerpiece of the gun control plan Booker unveiled last week. The licensing program would require anyone seeking to purchase a to complete a background check, safety training and an in-person interview, which Booker argues would help identify people at risk of suicide. 

Another feature of the plan includes incentivizing "extreme risk" laws, where law enforcement and family members are allowed to intervene by petitioning courts to take firearms from those at risk of hurting others or themselves.

"Gun suicides are an aspect of the gun violence epidemic that rarely get the attention they deserve," Booker said in a statement. "We should be doing so much more as a country to stop these preventable deaths, and it's shameful that the gun lobby is standing in the way."

CDC report released in 2018 revealed that over 22,000 people died from firearm suicides in 2016. Data from Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun violence prevention advocacy group, shows that an average of 59 deaths per day in the U.S. are a result of gun suicides.

Booker's plan also proposes the requirement of safe storage of firearms and the appointment of a senior White House official to use resources to combat gun violence and gun suicide.

The plan also indicates Booker's support for "lethal means safety counseling." Specifically, Booker's plan calls for an expansion of suicide prevention education and training for health care professionals. According to an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention report from 2018, nine states currently mandate suicide assessment and treatment training for medical professionals. The report also notes that four other states "encourage" this training. 

"My plan to reduce firearm suicide is simple: prevent guns from getting in the hands of those who have shown signs of wanting to hurt themselves or others," Booker added in the statement.

"We know these measures work because we've seen safer storage rules, extreme risk laws, and requirements that gun owners obtain a license lead to lower suicide rates in places that have them."

Booker has made gun control a focal point of his presidential campaign, often mentioning the issue in speeches on the campaign trail. He has proposed enacting a raft of strict laws on gun ownership, and recently met with activists on the issue at a roundtable in North Carolina.

In an interview with CNN that aired over the weekend, Booker said if elected president, he will offer more than "thoughts and prayers" to the victims of gun violence.

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