Frank Miniter: Cory Booker knows the truth about gun violence -- but sadly, he can’t say it

As he runs for president, Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J., is stumbling over his past positions on guns. This is worth noting because his dilemma is a poignant example of why America really can’t come together behind honest solutions.

Last Sunday, CNN host Jake Tapper pushed Booker on his show "State of the Union," to explain what he would do to stop a murderer like the one who struck in Virginia Beach, killing at least 12 people last Friday.

“You said yesterday that mass shootings in America ‘cannot just go on in our country.’ And you have unveiled a comprehensive gun-reform plan,” Tapper said. “Now, ATF says that the two weapons used in the attack were handguns, not semiautomatic assault rifles. They say that they were purchased legally. How would your plan have stopped this tragedy, if at all?”


Booker knew he couldn’t be honest without hurting his chances in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries, so he tried to sidestep the important question with generalities. “This is a tragedy today,” he said, “but you know that every single day in the United States of America, in the aggregate, we have mass shootings that go on in neighborhoods like mine….”

Tapper soon said, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but you keep saying, ‘We’re not helpless.’ So, I’m saying: What would have prevented this tragedy?”

Booker just continued to evade the question. Part of the reason for the obvious dodge was that none of Booker’s (or other Democrat’s) proposals would have stopped this murderer, as the killer’s handguns had been purchased legally and there is no red flag, at least that’s now publicly known, that would have put this man on law enforcement’s or public health official’s radars.

But Booker likely also has trouble answering because he knows that the honesty he expressed just a few years ago would hurt him politically today.

“Listen to me, the people dying in Chicago, the people dying in Newark are not being done with law-abiding gun owners. We do not need to go after the guns. A law-abiding, mentally stable American, that’s not America’s problem,” said Senator Cory Booker in 2012.

The deeply-rooted narrative from the left that American gun owners and their guns are a public-health problem has made honesty impossible for politicians who hope to win in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries.

Clearly, he was aware then—and likely still is now—that American freedom is not a problem that needs to be solved.

Booker can’t be honest today because he knows that Democrat primary voters have only been fed one narrative on guns for a long time. He knows that voters who only read publications like the New York Times and who only watch networks like CNN have no trouble adhering to a one-sided, ideologically anti-gun opinion—and feeling morally superior for it.

Booker must also know, based on his previous statements, that the left’s ideological push for gun control is treating law-abiding American gun owners as if they are the cause of evil, instead of the actual criminals or those with serious mental-health issues. He then must also be aware that this tactic pits one segment of the American citizenry against the other—those who choose not to own or carry firearms against the 100 million or more who do—for no good reason.

The shocking truth of it is, if the Democrats running for president would only be as honest as Booker used to be, we’d have a much better chance of coming together behind actual solutions. We could come up with better ways to find and treat those with potentially violent mental-health issues. We could find and build on honest policies to break up the cycle of inner-city gang violence. We could continue to empower more good, law-abiding Americans to carry concealed so they can act even more often as a line of defense against the rare and random mass-killers.

To stay in step with the current mainstream-media narrative, Booker also told Tapper: “This is a uniquely American problem. We have carnage in our country at levels that no other nation sees.”

That statement isn’t just misinformation, it is completely false. Many other nations have higher murder rates per capita than the U.S. Even if Booker was only referring to mass murders, he’d be wrong. Last year John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, debunked a study that many on the anti-gun left cite to make this false claim.


What is happening is that the deeply-rooted narrative from the left that American gun owners and their guns are a public-health problem has made honesty impossible for politicians who hope to win in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries.

In the process, they are also making real solutions impossible to achieve – and that is the most unfortunate thing of all.