2020 Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker promised on Sunday that if he gets elected president next year he will bring “the fight to the NRA like it’s never seen before.”
Booker -- whose campaign last week released more than a dozen specific proposals in a sweeping gun control agenda -- penned an Op-Ed in the Concord Monitor, a New Hampshire paper, lambasting lawmakers over thoughts and prayers after school shootings like the one last week in Colorado and doing “nothing to make our children and communities safer.”
“I refuse to wait for more thoughts and prayers – empty words that do nothing to make our children and communities safer,” Booker wrote. “That’s why I’ve just released a plan that introduces aggressive gun-safety measures – the most comprehensive gun violence prevention plan in decades – and brings the fight to the NRA like never before.”
Booker added: “Beginning on Day One of my presidency, I’ll take action to close dangerous loopholes in gun sales, crack down on unscrupulous dealers and gun manufacturers, and invest in communities impacted by gun violence. And I am immediately calling on the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the NRA’s tax status to determine whether the self-dealing and other activities recently reported in the press should lead to revocation of its tax-exempt status.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James recently announced that her office has launched an investigation over whether the organization deserves its tax-exempt nonprofit status.
The probe started after The New York Times in March and The New Yorker last month reported about turmoil within the NRA's leadership.
"There were media accounts, we all read it, and we want to make sure that the NRA, and any other charitable organization, that they comply with the not-for-profit law," James said.
Besides cracking down on the NRA, Booker – the junior senator from New Jersey – has also proposed that all gun owners be licensed by the federal government in a process that would include an interview and safety training.
While current gun owners and first-time buyers would be subject to the federal license requirement, a transition period would allow current owners to come into compliance, the Booker campaign said.
No such national gun license program currently exists. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of licensing or permit rules before people can buy guns, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Booker's gun control agenda includes universal background checks for gun buyers; the reinstitution of a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity firearm magazines; and the modernization of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Booker, a former mayor of Newark, New Jersey's largest city, said gun violence is an issue close to him, with several people being shot in his neighborhood recently.
“This is a personal fight for me, one that is rooted in my experience living in Newark, N.J., and working to stem the tide of gun violence for the past 20 years as a tenant organizer, on the city council, as mayor and as a senator,” Booker wrote in the New Hampshire newspaper. “In my community, kids fear fireworks on the Fourth of July because they sound like gunshots. In communities across the country, Americans are being killed and families are being torn apart. We must do better.”
He added: “I am sick and tired of hearing thoughts and prayers for the communities that have been shattered by gun violence. It is time for bold action.”
Booker’s gun control plans came on the same week in which two teenagers were arrested after opening fire inside a suburban Denver charter school – killing one classmate and injuring eight others, according to local law enforcement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.