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Cory Booker unveils "bold" plan to curb gun violence

Cory Booker on plan to curb gun violence

Democratic presidential candidate and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker introduced a sweeping gun violence prevention plan. If elected, the campaign announced Monday that on day one of his presidency, Booker will use executive action to close gun sales loopholes and to make investments in communities affected by gun violence.

The plan, which is the most extensive gun violence prevention proposal put forth by a presidential candidate to date, prioritizes a gun licensing program whereby gun owners would be required to obtain a gun permit and pass an FBI background check. Under the proposal, the gun permit would be valid for up to five years.

"My plan to address gun violence is simple - we will make it harder for people who should not have a gun to get one," Booker said in a statement. "I am sick and tired of hearing thoughts and prayers for the communities that have been shattered by gun violence - it is time for bold action."

The Democratic presidential hopeful's proposal also includes banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks and closing multiple gun loopholes, including one known as the "Boyfriend Loophole." According to the Giffords Law Center, federal law currently offers some protection to spouses of domestic abusers, banning those who have been convicted of domestic abuse or who are subject to domestic violence court orders from owning guns. But those protections don't extend to partners who are not spouses.

Booker proposes extending the ban to any dating partner or former dating partner who is convicted of a misdemeanor abuse crime. 

The Democrat told "CBS This Morning" on Monday that the issue is a personal one for him, having witnessed the impacts of gun violence firsthand in his own community of Newark, New Jersey. He said the plan wasn't just policy, but an "everyday experience for me and people in my community."

"This is a bigger issue in America where we're not approaching it or taking it on in proportion to the gravity of the consequences of our inaction," said Booker. 

He added, "We form governments to protect for the common defense and here we have in my lifetime more people being killed by gun violence in every single war in our country's history from the Revolutionary War to now combined. We must step up and deal with something that's crushing communities, destroying lives and really just tearing a part families."

Peter Ambler, the Executive Director of Giffords, which is a gun violence prevention advocacy group, said Booker's plan is not an "off the shelf plan," but is "bold, smart and thoughtful."

"This is, you know, workable, and I think it would lead to a real effect on our gun violence epidemic in this country," Ambler said.

Ambler added that this plan highlights Booker's courage and commitment to running on gun violence prevention reforms to address the gun violence epidemic, while also attracting primary and general election voters with this policy. 

Booker's plan also calls for increased oversight on gun manufacturers by allowing the Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue safety warnings and recalls for firearms. The plan would allocate funds to research gun violence as a public health issue and require handgun microstamping, which is aimed at helping law enforcement identify guns and their bullets in crimes.

"This is not a plan that any law-abiding gun owner should be concerned about, the people that should be concerned about it are two groups; people who want to break the law, gun runners and criminals, and the gun manufacturers who have been working with in an ungodly way to  undermine the safety and security of this nation," Booker told CBS. 

The New Jersey senator supports the bill passed by the House that aims to eliminate the so-called "Charleston loophole." The loophole in the background check system enabled Emanuel Baptist shooter Dylann Roof to buy a gun even though he had a prior drug conviction. Current law requires three days to perform a background check on gun purchases from licensed sellers. Because of an error, the FBI took longer than three days, thereby enabling Roof to purchase the gun.  

The House bill, one of two gun control bills passed by the Democratic-controlled House early this year, would extend the three-day background check period to 10 days. The other bill would effectively make background checks universal by requiring private parties to sell or transfer guns only through licensed gun dealers who are required to conduct background checks.

On the campaign trail, Booker has said repeatedly that if elected president, he will "bring the fight to the NRA." Booker feels a personal connection to gun control, often mentioning Shahad Smith, who was killed in a shooting in Booker's neighborhood in Newark last year.

In the wake of the National Rifle Association's internal turmoil, Booker also called on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate the NRA's taxes. In April, the New York Times reported that the New York attorney general opened an investigation into the NRA's tax-exempt status. 

Booker isn't the first Democratic presidential candidate to propose a gun violence prevention plan, as fellow Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, of California, too, committed in April to use executive actions to implement gun control policy. California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, promised to make gun control reform a focal point of his presidential campaign when he announced his bid in April.