AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Senator Cory Booker tried to chastise fellow presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg today by proclaiming the South Bend, Indiana mayor is “doing the NRA’s work” by calling a gun ban and mandatory “buyback” exactly what it is: confiscation.

What else would you call it when you’re told you’re no longer legally allowed to continue to own a gun you currently possess, and that you’re supposed to go to some designated time and place to hand it over to a representative of the State in exchange for some money, and that a failure to do so will result in a criminal charge if you’re caught in possession of that gun after you’re supposed to hand it over? It’s not door-to-door confiscation. It’s compensated confiscation. But it’s still confiscation.

This is a really weird argument coming from Cory Booker, because if he has a problem with Buttigieg calling it confiscation, why didn’t he rip into Beto O’Rourke when he said “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15” and your AK-47? I mean, he was standing on stage with him at the time. It would have been really easy to lean in to the microphone and say, “Excuse me, Beto, but no, I have to disagree. We’re not talking about confiscation and you don’t have to do the NRA’s work for them by saying you’re going to take people’s guns.”

You know what Cory Booker said? Nothing. Not a single word.

Of course, why should Cory Booker try to pick a fight with Beto O’Rourke? Both Booker and O’Rourke are sucking wind right now, with a new Quinnipiac poll showing both of them getting 2% of the primary vote. Buttigieg, meanwhile, is at 8% in the same poll, which is his best showing in quite some time. Booker needs to punch up, and Buttigieg presents a target. Unfortunately for Booker, he picked a dumb fight.

The New Jersey senator is actually a late adopter of the Swalwell/O’Rourke plan of banning guns deemed to be “assault weapons” and confiscating them in exchange for some cash. His gun control plan unveiled last month comes out in support of an “assault weapons ban” as well as a ban on “large capacity magazines”, but it doesn’t mention a “buyback” of the banned firearms at all. Booker glommed on to that proposal after O’Rourke picked up the “ban and buyback” torch when Eric Swalwell dropped out of the race.

I hope Booker actually gets asked some real questions about this, since he decided to mouth off about this not being a gun confiscation policy. How would he define “confiscation” for one thing? But even beyond this particular (and particularly dumb) tweet, the press should use this to ask Booker some serious questions about his gun control policies.

To the best of my knowledge, for instance, Booker hasn’t said what he believes the appropriate punishment would be for violating his mandatory “buyback”. For that matter, Booker hasn’t said what he thinks the punishment should be for anyone who continues to possess a firearm without getting one of his federal gun licenses. That’d be another great question for the candidate. Sadly, I don’t think any of those questions have a great chance of being asked, much less answered.

I know Cory Booker was trying to punch up here, but I think he missed. If we had a media that knew the right questions to ask,  this would probably go down as a self-inflicted sucker punch, but as it is Booker will likely get no real bounce and not much attention for his heavy-handed attempt to start a beef with Buttigieg.