Booker: Let's require federal licenses -- and an interview -- for gun ownership

“We do this for people driving cars,” Cory Booker tells CNN about his new gun-control proposal, which is not only not true but also irrelevant.  Booker employs easily demolished arguments in his push for requiring federal licensing for gun ownership, so much so that it’s impossible to believe that it’s not being prompted by anything other than electoral desperation. After last week’s disarray at the NRA annual meeting, Booker must have thought the time was ripe for everyone to forget about the Second Amendment:

Sen. Cory Booker will unveil a suite of proposals Monday to reform the nation’s gun laws in what his campaign describes as “the most sweeping plan ever put forth by a presidential candidate” to address gun violence.

“My plan to address gun violence is simple,” the New Jersey Democrat said in a statement. “We will make it harder for people who should not have a gun to get one.” …

The proposal would make gun licenses the federal standard, similar to a driver’s license or a passport — requiring fingerprints, an interview, and completion of a gun safety course.

His plan also calls for banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks; expanding background checks to include purchases from unlicensed sellers, and closing the “Charleston loophole” that enabled Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof to purchase a gun when the FBI did not complete his background check during the mandatory three-day waiting period.

Unless DMVs around the country have started requiring face-to-face interviews to determine who should get a driver’s license, we don’t use Booker’s system. Contra Booker again, we don’t require face-to-face interviews for passport approvals, either. The TSA Pre-Check Program does require an interview, but that’s because it’s an optional program for avoiding some security checks by giving TSA an advance look at travelers. You can stand in a TSA line without this “license,” and you stand in a line with it, too.

All of that is secondary to the main point, which is that none of the above involves a right granted explicitly by the Constitution. The Second Amendment prohibits the federal and state governments from infringing on the right to bear arms, a natural right rather than a grant from Uncle Sam. Licensing means permission, and no permission is necessary for gun ownership. Many states require permits to carry outside the home, and the NRA might even support a proposal to supersede those with a federal license; they’ve been pushing for federal reciprocity for several years on carry permits.

Making the NRA happy is clearly not on Booker’s agenda, however, but Booker might find explaining this tougher than he imagined. On CNN this morning, the discussion focused on the interview requirement. Surely Booker can’t have meant that a federal bureaucrat could decide for all time whether an American could exercise his right to bear arms, could he? Booker tries to avoid answering the question, but it’s clear that Booker intends precisely on that outcome — which would run into all sorts of problems regarding HellerMcDonald, and a host of other precedents, as well as basic constitutional and civic sense.

By the way, what happens to Americans who own guns and don’t get licensed? Would they get prosecuted and imprisoned? Booker avoids that question too, but at least CNN didn’t.