How the Virginia Beach Shooting Undermines Booker's Gun Control Plan

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker has made gun control a key part of his platform. He’s called for all kinds of proposals, proposals he swears will reduce gun violence in this country. These include universal background checks, licensing, the works.


And then Virginia Beach happened.

Now, normally, a mass shooting seems to have a negative impact on gun rights. People get upset and demand gun control, which is good for a candidate who wants gun control. Usually.

However, if Booker were to look at the events surrounding Virginia Beach, he might be sweating bullets, as it undermines his gun control agenda almost entirely.

Universal Background Checks

The idea of universal background checks has been around for a while, and they’ve done absolutely nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Still, anti-Second Amendment voices continue calling for them. However, Virginia Beach showed just how useless such a measure actually would be at preventing things like mass shootings.

After all, the killer passed a background check. At least one, but probably more than that. After all, his firearms were legally purchased, which suggests that he passed them. Of course, without knowing where he bought them, it’s difficult to say definitively that he passed a background check to get his guns.

But he did pass one for the suppressor.

Suppressors are among the most tightly regulated devices in the country. You can’t just walk into Walmart and pick one up. They’re treated like machine guns from a legal standpoint. To buy one, you have to jump through a great many hoops, including a background check. The NFA check required for one of these is also far more thorough than a NICS check.

Yet none of that prevented the maniac from murdering 12 people.

Assault Weapon Ban

An assault weapon ban is apparently the flavor of the month for Democrats running for president. Pretty much every candidate has some degree of assault weapon ban proposed. We’re assured that these are necessary, that we need to get these “weapons of war” off of our streets. The AR-15 is a boogieman for the gun control crowd. Granted, much of that is just because it looks scary, apparently.


Yet, the killer used a couple of handguns.

“Oh, but he could have killed so many more people with an AR-15,” someone might say. To be fair, that’s possibly correct. But a couple of handguns in the hands of an evil person were used in another Virginian mass shooting. Virginia Tech is still the most deadly school shooting on American soil. That shooting claimed the lives of 32 innocent people. That’s more than Sandy Hook or Parkland.

An assault weapon ban won’t make anyone safer. It will, however, infringe on the rights of millions of people who own these guns and the millions more who would then be barred from buying such weapons.

Gun Licensing

Booker things requiring gun owners to have a license will somehow prevent things like this from happening. He thinks we need to know who all has guns.

The problem is, the Virginia Beach killer had a license.

Well, sort of. You see, while gun licenses aren’t required for regular firearms, the process would be little different from an NFA check needed to purchase the suppressor. In fact, it’s likely that such a scheme would be less comprehensive than what the killer went through in order to purchase his suppressor.

The federal government pretty much knew the killer was armed–after all, what good is a suppressor without a firearm. They knew it. Yet what good did that do for the 12 people killed? None, because there was no reason to actually care. He’d broken no laws beyond minor traffic violations, so there was no reason to bar him from having a suppressor.

Just like there would be no reason to not grant him a gun license under Booker’s scheme.


Booker’s proposals look great to gun grabbers, but that’s only part of the equation if he wants to be president. He’s also got to convince people that policies like this would actually make a difference.

However, not a single one would have made a difference in Virginia Beach. Nothing he’s proposed would have averted disaster had it been in place.

In fact, the shooting actually undermines pretty much every policy he’s suggested. It illustrates the futility of gun control in general, but also Booker’s ideas in particular.

Perhaps it’s time to start admitting that if there is a solution to mass shootings, it’s not going to lie with gun control, but in trying to figure out why these happen and deal with the mechanisms at work within that pathology. The question is, does any politician have the stones to push for it?

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