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.
“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.”
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
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.