AP Photo/Steven Senne
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) has been pushing the idea of requiring a federal gun license hard lately, including Tuesday afternoon’s awkward comparison to driver’s licenses.
If you need a license to drive a car, you should need a license to own and operate a gun.
I’ll get this done as president: https://t.co/si7MK1VfB3
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) August 6, 2019
The senator is wrong, actually. You don’t need a license to drive a car on your property. I can and do let my 14-year olds drive my truck up and down the driveway, though they’re not allowed to go off-roading through the pastures (yet). If they were to take to the county road beyond my driveway it would be a different story, but no one’s breaking any laws when my unlicensed kids get behind the wheel of my vehicles on my property.
Besides, we’re talking about a right, not a privilege. What other constitutionally protected rights require a license? I had someone tell me yesterday that parades and marches required licenses, which may be true, but also may not be the case. Again, if you want to have a parade on your property, no license is going to be required. If you want to shut down a city street for a march, you’re probably going to need a permit. But nobody gets a license that allows them to exercise their 1st Amendment rights.
As you might be able to tell, I’m not a fan of Cory Booker’s gun licensing idea. I’m also not a fan of the gun licensing law in New Jersey, the state Cory Booker represents in the U.S. Senate. Under New Jersey law, anyone found to be in possession of an unlicensed firearm is looking at a minimum of 5-years in prison, with a maximum of a decade behind bars. We’re talking about simply possessing a firearm, not using it in the commission of a violent crime.
I asked Booker a simple question in response to his tweet, even though I wasn’t really expecting an answer.
In NJ, possession of a firearm without a license is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Is that the same punishment you’d apply as President? https://t.co/yJXWOqBVQ8
— Cam Edwards (@CamEdwards) August 6, 2019
This is in no way a “gotcha” question. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the first questions a reporter speaking to Booker about his gun control plans should ask.
“This is the law in the state you represent; is this what you’d like to see with your federal gun licensing law? Why or why not?”
Pretty basic questions. And yet, I honestly cannot imagine a reporter daring to ask it to Booker. They would never ask him about Shaneen Allen facing years in prison for accidentally bringing her legally owned firearm from Pennsylvania into New Jersey, or Brian Aitken, who served months in prison for a similar violation of New Jersey’s licensing laws before his sentence was commuted by Governor Chris Christie. Instead, they’ll keep asking him for the umpteenth time what he thinks about the NRA.
Booker’s made it clear he doesn’t want to talk about how his licensing law would be enforced, and the press has made it clear they don’t intend to press him on it. It would be one thing if this was just boring, simplistic coverage. It’s more than that. It’s an unwillingness by the press to ask any questions that might portray gun control as something that isn’t noble, righteous, and good. It means that most non-gun owning Americans will never have the chance to fairly judge Booker’s proposal, because they’ll never know all the details.