Guest Opinion: Cory Booker is the best option on gun policy

A UI student describes how the New Jersey senator’s plans for gun control has won support.

2020+Democratic+Presidential+candidate+Cory+Booker+speaks+at+Doubletree+Hilton+Hotel+in+Cedar+Rapids+on+Sunday%2C+June+9%2C+2019.+19+democrats+spoke+at+the+Iowa+Democratic+Party+Hall+of+Fame.
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Guest Opinion: Cory Booker is the best option on gun policy

2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Cory Booker speaks at Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, June 9, 2019. 19 democrats spoke at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame.

2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Cory Booker speaks at Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, June 9, 2019. 19 democrats spoke at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame.

Roman Slabach

2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Cory Booker speaks at Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, June 9, 2019. 19 democrats spoke at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame.

Roman Slabach

Roman Slabach

2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Cory Booker speaks at Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, June 9, 2019. 19 democrats spoke at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame.


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Gun violence has plagued this country for far too long. What should have been dealt with long ago has now, sadly, become near commonplace — not only in our schools and places of worship but in our low-income communities that often get overlooked in the gun-violence conversation.

Now, more than ever, we need a leader with a concrete plan to end this epidemic before it becomes insurmountable. That leader is Sen. Cory Booker. His plan will keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, reduce gun violence throughout the country, and take the fight directly to the NRA.

Last year, I was one of the co-founders and core members of the Iowa City March for Our Lives branch of Students Against School Shootings. During my time with the organization, I witnessed how important it is to have leaders who actively support the mission of gun-violence prevention. Activists can do a lot, but it requires leaders who understand and fight for a mission to truly attain success.

Booker understands this mission. As the mayor of Newark, he experienced the inner-city gun violence that is not discussed enough in this country. Just this past year, Shahad Smith, a man with whom Booker had shared the same building, was murdered with an assault weapon just down the street from where they lived. Having a leader who understands and has dealt with this epidemic firsthand is vitally important to ending it.

Some of the biggest issues I focused on during my time with Students Against School Shootings were background checks, the NRA, and the lack of available research on gun violence. These three cornerstone points popped up more often than not in the concerns of many. Booker’s new plan strongly addresses all of these. His licensing plan would keep guns out of the wrong hands and require universal background checks — a policy that has broad public support.

As many activists have seen, the NRA has actively worked to prevent simple commonsense safety measures from being passed. It no longer represents the majority of gun owners, but instead, it represents the interests of lobbyists and gun manufacturers. Booker’s plan would direct the IRS to conduct an investigation into the current nonprofit tax-exempt status of the NRA.

The biggest barrier as an activist has been the lack of available research on gun violence. Since the Dickey Amendment in 1996, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has been blocked from almost all research on the epidemic, and limits have been passed on the release of gun crime data. Booker understands how important it is for adequate and thorough research to be conducted on the issue. His plan increases federal funding to research the gun-violence epidemic as a public-health issue and modernize the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to better track the data.

With the issue of gun violence expanding every day, the time to act is now. As I learned very quickly from working with Students Against School Shootings, we need leaders who will actively fight for commonsense for gun-violence prevention to make the change we so desperately need. I hope you will join me in supporting Cory Booker for president of the United States in 2020.

— Nick Pryor

UI student