Allahpundit included a portion of this argument from Cory Booker in last night’s QOTD, but the video is worth watching at more length. The mayor of Newark and prospective US Senate candidate grabbed the panel’s attention by asking, “I don’t know if anybody here has seen someone shot. I have.” In all of the shootings in his city, Booker says, only one was perpetrated by “a law-abiding citizen who is mentally stable and who bought a gun.” “I’m not afraid of law abiding citizens who buy a gun,” Booker declared, and called the entire issue “a false debate” (via JWF and Instapundit):
The Newark Star-Ledger followed up with a report on Booker’s surprising response, including his assertion that going after the guns of law-abiding citizens is the wrong approach:
Booker pushed for stronger background checks on people looking to purchase guns and said a key way to curb gun violence is to shut down secondary markets.
“I’m not afraid of law-abiding citizens who buy a gun,” he said. “Buy the guns you want. What the problem is in America right now is that a terrorist person who is on the no-fly list could go into the secondary market today and buy a weapon.”
“Criminals are killing people,” the mayor added. “Not law-abiding gun owners.”…
“Listen to me, the people dying in Chicago, the people dying in Newark are not being done with law-abiding gun owners,” Booker continued. “We do not need to go after the guns. A law-abiding mentally stable American, that’s not America’s problem.”
“We trace the weapons that come into my city,” the mayor added. “And when residents look to me and they say, ‘Stop the carnage, Cory,’ what I say is with the guns we’re tracing, I have no power to stop them coming into my city as (Chicago Mayor) Rahm (Emanuel) does them coming into Chicago. They’re coming from places that have free secondary markets where criminals and gun runners so easily buy weapons and pump them into communities like mine where it is easy for a person who is a criminal to get their hands on a gun.”
Most people I know don’t have an issue with background checks for gun purchases, either. I went through that for my carry permit, which in this state allows me to buy a firearm over the counter from a licensed dealer. I haven’t ever heard any gun-rights organization oppose background checks, although they have grumbled about waiting periods. Controls in “secondary markets” are a fair topic for debate, but sales at gun shows and by mail-order have to abide by the same laws as dealers for background checks; in fact, sales by mail must be concluded through a federally-licensed dealer, who conducts the already-required background checks. I’m assuming Booker means person-to-person sales and other transactions that are already below the radar and difficult to regulate, but I’m willing to hear him out.
But here’s the question: would any of that have stopped the Newtown Shooting? Aurora? Tucson? There may be room to argue that the restrictions on secondary markets need to be tightened to prevent guns from falling into the hands of criminals — but if it’s framed in the context of these events, then it is a false debate.