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Sen. Cory Booker on American Gun Violence: We Are No Longer Protecting the People of the U.S.

In the wake of the deadly shootings in Aurora, GA, and Boulder, CO, Sen. Cory Booker lamented the state of the nation and the government’s inaction to curtail gun violence.

In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 23, Booker stated the government had seemed to forget its duty to protect the people of the U.S.

“We are not fulfilling our mandate. We do not have domestic tranquility. We do not have a common defense, with death levels that no one country is seeing. And, dear God, clearly we do not have justice,” he said.

National Response to the Violence

Booker noted compared to other developed nations, the number of Americans being killed was much larger than any contemporary.

“Why are we here? Why did we establish this government if not to better defend ourselves? And yet we see slaughter every day,” the Senator asked.

Booker went on the Senate floor March 24 to expand on his comments, illustrating how the death from gun violence in the U.S. is unprecedented.

Senate Speech

“Something like that has never been seen before—even a country at war—because the people that have died, the human beings that have lost the family members that have been slain their total number in just my lifetime add up to more than all of the Americans that have died in every single war from the Revolution to our current wars in the Middle East,” said the 51-year-old Booker. “The painful heartbreaking reality is we could have taken hour after hour over days after days to name the total that have died in my lifetime.”

Booker continued, “Name after name tonight has been spoken by colleague after colleague and every single name is a son or daughter. It is a brother or sister. It is a family member. They are a person (that is ) part of a community and they are dead. But this is not just any limited list—it seems to grow like a cancer on the soul of our country.”

Newark Experience

During his impassioned 18-minute address, Booker recalled his time as mayor of Newark and interactions with police officers after shootings in the city and his own personal stories of a man that lived in his building that was gunned down .

“I would have police officer show me the films of murders from our cameras, human beings shot and killed,” he said. “How could it not shake the core of your soul, how could it not rip open wound that can not be healed? My colleagues are reading names to childrens lost, bodies mangled… how could it not call to your conscience (and) demand from all of us not to sit idly by and watch.”

The former candidate for President in 2020 said this is a moment in American history that could be the inflection point if action is taken immediately.

Time to End Nightmare

“We can end some of this nightmare. If we fail to do anything, we’ll be back here again, the list of the dead will be longer, the heartache and the pain and the wounds and the grief and the sorrow and the shame will be deeper in America, the world’s greatest country,” opined the Senator. “We must end the poverty of empathy. We must free ourselves from this prison-from this dungeon. We must release ourselves from these chains. We must demand that this nation be the nation we want it to be, be the nation we hope we should be, be the nation that those in military uniforms die for.”

Booker concluded his speech by stating he believes that if American gun violence has not broken your heart, “then you don’t love her enough.”

“The greatest calling of every faith that there is not words, but real true manifestation of the principle and the call, will we be silent? Will we be ignorant? Will we avoid? Will we do nothing? Will we be passive or will we truly be a nation that loves one another?,” wondered Booker

Biden Comments

After the shooting in Boulder, President Joe Biden offered condolences to those lost in the violence and argued the country can take immediate steps to help stop shootings of this kind.

“I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take commonsense steps that will save the lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act,” he said.

The President’s plea was heard as pair of gun control bills, largely backed by New Jersey’s congressional delegation in House of Representatives, passed from the House to the Senate March 11.

Bill Passes House, Heads to Senate

The bills would apply background checks to those buying weapons via internet or gun show sales. Exceptions would be granted for guns given as gifts and temporary transfers.

Additionally, the so-called “Charleston loophole” would be closed under the legislation. This loophole extended to 10 days from 3 the period in which a background check must be completed as part of a gun sale.

Support in the House was largely Democratic, but some Republicans supported the bill.

5 comments

  1. Sen. Booker should be asking “why is the government protecting gun makers from law suits”?

    The mis-named federal “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” (PLCAA) immunizes gun and ammo manufacturers from lawsuits that would otherwise be brought by victims and their families if the gun and ammo they sell is used in a crime. Normally, here is a high duty of care for inherently dangerous devices and the trial lawyers jump on any business that violates that high standard of care. No complex new laws would be needed: manufacturers (and their insurance companies) would quickly stop making “assault-style” weapons and military-grade high-power ammunition under the threat of catastrophic jury awards.

    Why on earth are gun makers given a privilege enjoyed by no other industry?

    Repeal of the PLCAA would be enhanced if liability were extended to anyone who knows or should have known that a mentally ill individual has access to a gun and uses it in a crime. Friends and family would have a huge financial reason to take steps to protect their community from a potentially dangerous person. Similarly, anyone who allows their gun to be stolen or transfers it to anyone other than a registered gun dealer should have liability if the thief or transferee uses the gun in a crime. Suddenly, gun safes or storing weapons at a gun club would make a lot of sense.

  2. Let’s get real: we all know what needs to be done – or does action have to wait until you or someone in your family is a random victim? At this time, Democrats control the executive and legislative branches enough to get many things done despite GOP obstructionism. It’s what we elected them to do. So here’s an idea: just do it, and don’t worry about the political fallout. That fallout will be worse if the action we elected them to take isn’t taken.

  3. Unfortunately, “What needs to be done” is likely to run afoul of the Constitution. As a first step that doesn’t implicate the Constitution, just stop protecting the gun and ammo makers and see what happens. And if the State has the courage to make friend and family liable if they knew or should have known that a mentally ill individual has access to a firearm. It is just stupid for Congress — whether Republican or Democrat — to give gun makers an immunity that no other industry enjoys. Keep it simple stupid!

  4. I agree that we must address the gun issue. The approach should include a more comprehensive background check system that has access to medical records. Additionally, mandatory firearm classes as a requirement for a license with a 5 year renewal refresher course. Stop looking at legal gun owners and focus on making it more difficult for unqualified persons to obtain a firearm. Work with the NRA to draft a structure that addresses these encompassing issues.

    Lastly, to Sen. Booker’s comment about government’s mandate to protect the people of the US and domestic tranquility: Let’s start by putting the American citizen first and not the uncountable `illegal immigrants we have purposely allowed into our country. I agree we are a nation of immigrants. I do not blame anyone for wanting to come to the USA, still the best country on the planet. However, we have the knowledge, we must create the will to create a system that addresses our country’s immigration policies.

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