From our schools to our houses of worship to our streets, we have what amounts to a mass shooting in the aggregate every day in America. This violence is in many ways indiscriminate — from suburban communities to farm towns, from Southern cities like Charlotte to midwestern cities like Chicago. Nationally, gun violence kills more children than cancer, and is the second leading cause of death in children.
This epidemic is also disproportionately killing certain Americans, and mostly in inner-city communities like the one I go home to. Gun violence is the leading cause of death for Black children and teenagers, and Black Americans are ten times more likely to be killed by gun violence than White Americans.
This unchecked, inexhaustible violence is dangerous.
Putting forward a comprehensive plan to address it is not.
My plan, which as you note, is the most comprehensive gun violence prevention plan of any candidate for President in decades, is aimed at saving American lives and making it harder for people who should not have a gun to get one.
The first part of the plan, of which you seem to take the most offense, would create a national gun licensing system, ensuring that individuals have passed a background check and have a basic understanding of how to operate a firearm. The proposal is built on evidence of what works: after Connecticut passed a state law that required a purchasing license for handguns, researchers reported a 40 percent drop in gun homicides and 15 percent reduction in firearm suicides.
But my plan doesn’t stop with licensing. We need to take a comprehensive approach to addressing what you refer to as a “unique and specific” problem — and that means everything from funding research at the CDC to banning military-style weapons, to dedicating resources to trauma care for survivors of gun violence and the communities that have been hollowed out by it.
While you categorize my plan to tackle this epidemic as “dangerous” in the abstract, Americans across the country are dealing with the very real danger of gun violence every single day.
It’s dangerous that 100 people in the United States on average each day are killed with a gun.
It’s dangerous that millions of Americans are living with the long-term health effects of gun violence — from lifelong physical disabilities to untreated PTSD that means kids in communities like mine fear the sound of fireworks on the Fourth of July because they sound like gunshots.
It’s dangerous that an individual with a misdemeanor domestic violence record can buy a gun, and that when a gun is present in a domestic violence situation the risk of death for women jumps by 500 percent.
It’s dangerous to continue to do nothing while people are dying.
Cory Booker is the junior senator from New Jersey and a 2020 candidate for President.