Presidential candidate Cory Booker highlighted his proposals to strengthen federal gun laws Friday in the wake of more than a dozen shootings in Boston over five days last weekend.
In a phone call with local media, Booker, a New Jersey senator, touted his experience dealing with the “nightmare” of gun violence as a former mayor of Newark. He said the moment was “an opportunity for us to speak to a lot of the pain that people are feeling in the Boston community.”
Booker’s campaign said he originally planned to appear with gun-safety advocates at the Monsignor Reynolds Playground in the South End, near the site of one of the July Fourth weekend shootings, but bad weather forced him to scrap those plans. He’s campaigning in New Hampshire this weekend.
He said he hasn’t yet spoken with Mayor Martin J. Walsh about the recent shootings, but he has “such respect for Mayor Walsh, and I’m one of the people running in this race who can actually empathize with his fight and his struggle and his cause.”
Booker, who has made gun regulations a centerpiece of his campaign, would require prospective gun buyers to apply for a license, a process that would be similar to obtaining a passport or driver’s license.
He said he wanted to speak in Boston because the city’s spate of recent shootings, in spite of Massachusetts’ tough gun laws, “supports the urgency of my plan.” Booker cited data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showing that nearly 70 percent of identifiable firearms traced in Massachusetts in 2017 came from out of state.
“This country and its gun laws are only as strong as its weakest link,” said Vikiana Petit-Homme, a local activist and recent graduate of Boston Latin Academy on the call with Booker.
A total of 17 people, including an 8-year-old girl, were shot and wounded between midnight July 3 and sunset July 7.
All are expected to survive. An 18th person was shot and injured early Tuesday morning, police said.
In the first six months of the year, there were 18 homicides by gunfire in Boston and 69 nonfatal shootings, police said. That’s similar to the first six months of 2018, when 21 people were killed in shootings and 65 were injured.
“We have a crisis because we do nothing in response to this kind of carnage,” Booker said. “When people are shot and killed in communities across the country . . . we just do nothing.”
Booker supports a number of other gun regulations, including universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and limits on the number of handguns any one person can purchase per month.