Senator Cory Booker sounded a pessimistic note on the US government’s ability and willingness to reform gun control laws in the country while appearing on a Sunday morning talk show.
When pressed by NBC host Chuck Todd about some of the proposed solutions that have been floated in the days since a brutal mass shooting in Texas left 19 children and two teachers dead, the New Jersey senator acknowledged that none of these pieces of legislation, even if passed, would solve America’s gun problem.
“The red flag law or the expanded background check wouldn’t have done anything,” Todd began. He then punctuated this point by stating that both the gunmen responsible in America’s two most recent mass shootings – in Buffalo, where an 18-year-old shot and killed 10 people and in Uvalde, where a man of the same age opened fire on a fourth-grade class and killed 21 people – “legally purchased everything they used”.
“It feels like you’re gonna solve a problem that doesn’t address the problem,” the morning news show host finally posed.
For his part, the New Jersey lawmaker acknowledged that these proposed pieces of legislation were “not a one-move solution.”
“But we know background checks make a difference,” he said, adding that in states where gun licensing laws were passed, such as Connecticut, there was evidence that gun violence rates dropped.
In 1995, Connecticut passed a law that required a permit or license, contingent on passing a background check, before a person could purchase a handgun. According to research conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, the law was associated with a 40 per cent reduction in the state’s firearm-related homicide rate.
By contrast, the senator pointed out, when Missouri got rid of the same law, the state saw a 25 per cent increase in firearm homicide.
“So we know what works,” Mr Booker said before conceding to a graver reflection.
“We are at a point in this nation, where we are going to have to mobilize a greater movement,” he told the Todd. “Until the redemptive power of the love for all of our children is greater than the destructive power of the love of our guns and money and power, until that redemptive love of our children turns into action, then nothing is gonna change.”
Almost immediately in the wake of last week’s mass shooting in Uvalde, where an 18-year-old stormed an elementary school, armed with an AR-15 rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, Democratic lawmakers began coordinating to get some new form of gun reform legislation on the table.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters last week that the chamber intends to vote on legislation, with or without the support of their Republican colleagues, while Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a state home to the site of the second most deadly school shooting in the country, told CBS’ face the nation on Sunday that he was optimistic that GOP lawmakers were willing to cross the aisle to discuss potential reforms.
Specifically, being discussed are potential reforms like a red flag law and stricter background checks, both of which were challenged by NBC host Chuck Todd during his sit-down with Sen Booker on Sunday.
At least 19 states across the country currently have some kind of red flag law in place, which essentially enables family members or law enforcement agencies to petition the court to confiscate or temporarily prevent access to firearms from individuals they believe are at risk of harming themselves or others.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.