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Chart by Bill Cawthon

First, let’s start with Cory Booker’s track record. As can be seen from the chart, it’s pretty bad. After a nice drop in Newark’s homicide rate, falling to just four times the national average in 2008, the homicide rate soared 68% in the city in Booker’s last year in office. That was nearly nine times the national rate.

What makes it look even more bleak for Booker’s credibility is the fact that the entire time he was mayor of Newark, the national homicide rate was falling. In fact, in 2014, the year after Booker left office, the FBI reported that the overall homicide rate fell to 4.44/100,000 population, the lowest rate since 1957.

That brings up another point: the so-called “epidemic of gun violence.” It’s a carefully crafted, lovingly nurtured myth. Or, if you prefer, it’s a lie.

During the ten-year period from 2008 to 2017, the most recent year for which we have national data, that average U.S. homicide rate was the lowest of any of the preceding 10-year periods going all the way back to 1958. Nearly six decades. That’s from FBI Uniform Crime Reporting System data. The CDC has online fatal injury data going back to 1981 and the story is the same.

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Experts are unsure of what caused the steep decline in not just homicides, but all violent crime, from its peak in 1991 to 2004. But from 1991 to 2017, the violent crime rate fell more than 48% and the homicide rate dropped more than 45%.

But despite a huge surge in gun sales beginning in 2008, the homicide rate continued to fall until 2014.

Let’s look at Cory Booker’s plan:

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Cory’s Plan is unconstitutional. It’s unconstitutional based not only on the Second Amendment, which has been ruled as protecting an individual civil right since at least 1875, but on the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits a “taking” of property without just compensation; the Ninth Amendment, which protects the privileges and immunities of the citizens; and the Tenth Amendment, which reserves the rights and powers not specifically granted to the federal government to the states and the people. It might even violate the limitations imposed on Congress by the Commerce Clause.

And before anyone brings up retired Justice John Paul Stevens and U.S. v. Miller, I advise them to carefully read Justice James McReynolds’ opinion. It doesn’t say what Justice Stevens believes it says.

The federal government doesn’t have the authority to license ownership of firearms. The comparison to drivers licenses is garbage on three counts: the states issue drivers licenses; driving is considered a privilege extended by the state while the right to keep and bear arms is not; nobody needs a drivers license to own a motor vehicle, they just need one if they wish to drive the vehicle on public roads; a drivers license from one state is accepted in all of the other states, something I am sure isn’t in Cory Booker’s plan.

Federal law prohibits the establishment of a registry of firearms or firearm owners. I know that was in the doomed Bipartisan Background Check Act of 2019 but apparently somebody hadn’t done their homework. It is specifically forbidden in the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. In addition, some states have their own laws prohibiting licensing or registration.

The one good thing that both Cory Booker and Kamala Harris have said they would do is to set a definite limit on the number of guns that could be sold by an individual without a federal firearms license. That’s an issue that should have been addressed years ago. A Wisconsin man was sentenced to three years in prison for selling a large number of guns through Armslist, including one that was later used to murder a Chicago police commander. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had warned him about his activities and had even sent him a license application. (Note: I use GunBroker.com, which requires that all firearms transactions be processed through a licensed dealer. In fact, that’s why I use it.)

On to practical matters: registration is a dead issue in the United States. I am not sure what it will take to get through to some people, but it really isn’t going to work. To say non-compliance would be an issue is a massive understatement.

States have already seen proposed legislation that would create a state-wide Second Amendment sanctuary. This means that not only would federal laws deemed to be unconstitutional not be enforced; use of state, county and municipal funds, personnel and other resources to enforce these laws would be forbidden. Some suggestions have even called for the arrest of federal officers attempting to enforce the laws within those states. Not sure how that last would work out but the agents would still be in jail.

What Cory Booker and the rest of the gun control gang don’t understand is that their proposals would set up a legal civil war between the states and the federal government.

What we’re already seeing is the Second Amendment sanctuary movement. Over half the counties in states like Illinois and Washington have declared themselves sanctuaries where new gun control laws won’t be enforced. Voters in eight Oregon counties approved measures prohibiting the use of county resources to enforce new gun laws. Five of Nevada’s 14 counties have become Second Amendment sanctuaries and it’s likely that as many as 13 of the counties may ultimately join in.

Gun control is also facing reversals in the federal courts. The Supreme Court has already accepted a case involving the right to bear arms; it comes up in October. Another ruling, from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Judicial District, has held that Hawaii’s policy of not issuing carry permits is unconstitutional and that open carry of firearms is a right protected by the Second Amendment. A U.S. District Court judge in San Diego has ruled that California’s high-capacity magazine ban is unconstitutional on multiple grounds.

Something that Cory Booker doesn’t seem to realize is that it’s not the NRA; only a small percentage of gun owners are members of the NRA. It’s the fact that roughly a third of American adults are gun owners and they can vote. The best estimates place the total at around 80 million.

There are 17.25 million active concealed-carry permits in the U.S. and there are 16 states that don’t require a permit to carry a handgun, openly or concealed. There are another 16 that don’t require a permit to openly carry a handgun. Iowa allows it outside of city limits.

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This is the other thing that gun control fans fail to realize: the laws are being relaxed in many states and it’s not causing gun violence to increase. In 2017, the four states with the lowest homicide rates in the U.S. were all green states.

In 2002, only one state allowed a person to carry a handgun without a permit: Vermont. Beginning with Alaska in 2003, 15 more states have followed suit.

As for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2004 (PLCAA), it only protects gun manufacturers from lawsuits arising from the criminal misuse of their products by people with whom they have no connection and over whom they had no control. After all, nobody sued Fiat Chrysler Automobiles when James Fields drove a Dodge Challenger into a crowd of demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The PLCAA was triggered by a plan dreamed up by certain state attorneys general to file a stream of lawsuits, not because they had a chance of winning or even had a valid claim, but to force firearms manufacturers to spend so much on legal defenses that it would bankrupt them. Elliott Spitzer, then the New York state Attorney General, said it would be “death by a thousand cuts.” In legal terms, it’s called barratry and can get an attorney disbarred.

In the end, you’re faced with two choices:

  1. Cory Booker is an opportunistic politician who has a lousy track record when it comes to gun violence; is simply ticking off the talking points of the gun control wish list; is no different than an old-time medicine show huckster peddling snake oil; or:
  2. Cory Booker is an idiot who knows nothing about the U.S. Constitution, the limitations on presidential powers, the impact of his proposals, and is mostly talking just to hear himself speak.

Neither choice makes Cory Booker particularly appealing as a candidate for the White House.

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