Booker Dodges on Jailing Gun Owners

May 6, 2019

Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) refused to answer Monday how far he would go to confiscate lawfully purchased firearms.

Appearing on CNN's New Day with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto, Booker shared details about his plan to limit firearm ownership and reduce gun violence.

Booker introduced the plan earlier Monday to "[b]an assault weapons."

The proposal describes itself as "the most sweeping gun violence prevention proposal ever advanced by a presidential candidate."

Responding to the news, Harlow asked the junior senator from New Jersey how his proposal stacked up. She compared it to that of Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.). Swalwell is also running for president.

"Your competitor in the 2020 race, congressman Eric Swalwell has also, like you, proposed an assault weapons ban," Harlow began.

Swalwell has threatened noncompliant firearm owners with war, invoking the power of America's nuclear arsenal.

Harlow described Swalwell's "buy-back programs, where Americans who currently have those guns could sell them, essentially, to the government. But if they don't within a certain period of time, they would be prosecuted, thrown in jail."

The CNN anchor wanted to know whether he would similarly jail the gun owners. "Are you supportive of the same?" she asked.

Booker was initially evasive.

"Well first of all when I was a mayor of Newark, again, I have a record on dealing with gun violence. We did a lot of gun buy-backs and even other creative things I think we should have when I'm President of the United State," Booker said. "The critical thing is I think most Americans agree that these weapons of war should not be on our streets."

Harlow again pressed Booker.

"But would you prosecute people?" she asked. "Do you support the government buying them back and if not, potentially people could go to jail if they don't want to sell them back? Yes or no?"

Booker would not answer the question.

"Again, we should have a law that bans these weapons and we should have a reasonable period in which people can turn in these weapons," Booker answered. "Right now we have a nation that allows in streets and communities like mine these weapons that should not exist."

The weapons exist. What Booker would do to their owners remains unclear.

In his announcement earlier Monday, Booker promised unilateral action on gun issues. "Beginning on Day One in office, Cory will take executive action to build on ongoing efforts and take concrete steps forward" on the issue, the announcement concludes.