After getting at least a few minutes of superficial attention during the first night, gun control wasn’t brought up during the second night of CNN’s two-night Democrat presidential debate. Moderators didn’t bring up the issue, and none of the candidates on stage sought to highlight the “gun violence epidemic” in any way.
The closest we came to the issue was Cory Booker going after Joe Biden once more over Biden’s support of the 1994 crime bill; the same legislation that included the “assault weapons ban” that expired in 2004 is now opposed by today’s Left. They don’t like the crime bill because they say it led to mass incarceration of young minority males for non-violent drug offenses. Cory Booker is running on a plan of reforming the criminal justice system and attacks the 94 crime bill on a regular basis for its systemic bias.
But Cory Booker has a problem, one that no Democrat will bring up, but one that Donald Trump most certainly could exploit. Booker’s criminal justice reform policies are directly contradicted by the centerpiece of his gun control plans.
Cory Booker’s federal gun licensing law would disproportionately put young men of color in prison simply for possessing a firearm without one of Booker’s licenses. Booker touts himself as a criminal justice reformer, but imprisoning people in prison for possessing guns without a license isn’t “reform” at all. Yet a federal gun license lies at the heart of his gun control platform, and it’s in complete opposition to his calls to remake the criminal justice system.
Make no mistake. A call for gun licensing is a call to use the power of the government to try and limit the exercise of an individual right. As Cassandra Crifasi, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, told Vox’s German Lopez, “The end impact is you decrease gun ownership overall. Lots of folks think, ‘Well, it’s probably not worth going through all these hoops to buy firearms, so I’m not going to buy one.’ And then you have fewer firearms around, and less exposure.”
Even if Booker’s proposal wasn’t going to disproportionately impact young minority men, using the power of the State to discourage the exercise of a constitutionally protected right is tyranny. I’d honestly have more respect for the argument that the 2nd Amendment should be repealed. Gun licensing to limit gun ownership makes a mockery of the idea of the Bill of Rights being able to protect any of the rights enshrined there.
Cory Booker hasn’t mentioned what he thinks should happen to any of the 100,000,000 legal gun owners in this country who would refuse to comply with his national gun licensing law. We do know that in New Jersey, possession of a firearm without a license could land you in prison for five to ten years. We also know that Cory Booker’s never said a harsh word about that penalty. I think it’s safe to assume that Booker would be fine with a federal law that treats the unlicensed possession of a firearm almost as harshly as federal law treats a felon found in possession of a firearm.
There’s a very good chance that whoever the Democrat presidential candidate is, they’ll end up supporting some form of a federal gun licensing law. I’d say the odds are good that they’ll never get asked a critical question about their position until the face Donald Trump on a debate stage.