Booker, Menendez, Blumenthal Reintroduce Federal Firearm Licensing Act
Washington, D.C. — After another series of deadly mass shootings across the country, U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today reintroduced the Federal Firearm Licensing Act, legislation that would require individuals to obtain a firearm license from the Department of Justice (DOJ) before purchasing or receiving a firearm.
Several studies have shown that licensing laws reduce gun violence in states that have enacted them. According to the Giffords Law Center, Connecticut saw its gun homicide and gun suicide rates decrease by 28 and 33 percent, respectively, after passing a state licensing law. In contrast, after Missouri repealed its firearm licensing law, the state saw a 47 percent increase in its gun homicide rate and 24 percent increase in its gun suicide rate. Licensing laws also enjoy strong support from Americans, with 77% backing the measure according to a Quinnipiac survey from 2019.
“In our nation, gun violence has become eerily routine and we’ve done little to stop the horrific mass shootings that devastate the lives of victims and their loved ones,” said Sen. Booker. “Accepting this shameful status quo will continue to lead to deadly consequences. We need to adopt proven, common-sense measures that will address the scourge of gun violence and make our communities safer.”
“This bill moves us in the right direction and is based on a simple concept – if you need a license to drive a car, you should need one to buy and possess a gun,” continued Sen. Booker. “Firearm licensing laws have broad public support and have been shown to reduce gun violence in states that have enacted them, including in my home state of New Jersey. This is the moment to enact ambitious legislation – as a nation, we must rise to it, or we are fated to witness the deadly scenes of this past weekend and years past over again.”
“The United States stands alone in our failure to protect our citizens from gun violence. While many states, including New Jersey, have commonsense gun laws, the need for federal licensing standards has long been clear,” said Sen. Menendez. “The Federal Firearms Licensing Act would put in place a certification process that includes firearm safety training and a thorough criminal background and identity check requiring the licensee be 21 years of age. We have a moral obligation to prevent these senseless massacres in our schools, supermarkets, places of worship and shopping malls that are tearing communities and families apart. It is my hope that my Republican colleagues will once-and-for-all recognize the urgency of action and join us in passing this legislation before more lives are senselessly lost to gun violence.”
“This legislation will save lives and protect communities across the United States from the devastating impact of gun violence,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “As shown by the success in Connecticut, simple, common sense standards like licensing laws requiring the completion of a background check and firearm safety certification work. I’m proud to join Senators Booker and Menendez in this effort to address our nation’s gun violence epidemic.”
In order to obtain a federal firearm license, the bill would require the following:
- Certification that the individual completed firearm safety training, which must include a written test and hands-on training to ensure safe use and accuracy.
- Completion of a criminal history background check.
- Submission of fingerprints, proof of identity, and verification that the individual is at least 21-years-old.
The federal firearm license must be renewed every five years at which point the applicant will have to go through a background check and undergo firearm safety training again. The bill contains a mechanism for the DOJ to revoke the license if the individual poses a danger to themselves or to others. It would require the Federal Bureau of Investigation to regularly conduct checks to ensure that individuals are in compliance with federal license requirements and keeps in place requirements that all people purchasing firearms from a federal firearms licensee undergo a background check.
Full text of the legislation can be viewed here.
Background on Booker’s Work on Fighting the Gun Violence Epidemic:
Since his early days in public service, Booker has seen the devastating impact of gun violence first-hand. He is the only Senator who goes home to a low-income community that is disproportionately affected by violent crime caused by the easy availability of guns. As a result, Booker has been a forceful advocate for common-sense gun safety laws during his time in the Senate. He first introduced the Federal Firearm Licensing Act in 2019. He has also introduced the groundbreaking Break the Cycle of Violence Act that would provide federal grants to communities for evidence-based gun violence intervention and joined colleagues in introducing an Assault Weapons Ban.