Presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker is calling for all gun owners to obtain federal firearms licenses.
The national licensing proposal is one of 16 that the Democrat from New Jersey unveiled on Monday in what his campaign touted as the “most sweeping gun violence prevention plan ever put forth by a presidential candidate.”
Booker argued that just as a driver’s license demonstrates a person’s eligibility and proficiency to drive a car, “a gun license demonstrates that a person is eligible and can meet certain safety and training standards necessary to own a gun.”
The senator said his proposal builds on “rigorous evidence at the state level demonstrating the connection between gun licensing and reduction in gun violence.”
According to Booker’s plan, current and first-time firearms buyers would seek a license at a designated office, similar to obtaining a passport. The applications would then be verified by the FBI. Current gun owners would have a transition period to obtain a federal license.
While no such national gun license program currently exists, 13 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.
"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 said in a statement.
Booker’s plan also includes elements proposed by other Democratic presidential contenders. Among them are 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.
“My plan to address gun violence is simple - we will make it harder for people who should not have a gun to get one,” the senator explained.
Booker highlighted the issue of gun safety as he kicked off his presidential campaign earlier this year during a speech in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, where he served as mayor before winning election to the Senate.
Taking aim at the National Rifle Association, the politically powerful organization that mostly opposes gun restrictions, Booker vowed if elected to the White House to “bring a fight to the NRA like they have never ever seen before.”
Booker has an “F” rating from the NRA.
Booker’s plan could face some resistance in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, let alone the Republican-controlled Senate, which has downed less-sweeping gun restriction proposals in recent years.
The Republican National Committee took aim at Booker's plan in response.
“Just when you think the 2020 field could not get anymore out there, Cory Booker comes in with a plan to use executive action filled with new restrictions and permits on law-abiding gun-owners. Votes across the country will see this as another big government grab on our constitutional rights," said RNC spokesperson Mandi Merritt.
It’s the senator’s second major policy proposal, following the release last month of an environmental justice plan. Booker’s release of his gun control plan comes as the White House hopeful tries to stand out in a Democratic presidential field that now tops 20 candidates.
Booker has yet to have a breakout moment in his campaign, and currently stands in the mid-single digits in most polling. But his campaign highlights the groundwork they’ve put in as they build strong organization in the early voting states in the primary and caucus calendar.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.