Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) revealed on Friday that while he supports the federal government seizing certain firearms from American citizens, opponents who portray the program as gun confiscation are using fear to paint a narrative.
"This is the thing, we are capable of doing it. Other countries have been and we have done it in the past," Booker replied to CNN's John Berman when asked how he plans on implementing a nationwide mandatory buyback.
"You have to set up a system that is mandatory, you have to set up a system to pull them off, but this idea, this imagery that the fear-mongers and demagogues try to say of somehow armed police officers showing up and confiscating weapons – that's the fear-mongering," he continued. "And people trying to obscure and make people forget what we have done before as a nation with machine guns, what other nations have done with assault rifles."
Booker has long supported prohibiting the sale of so-called "assault weapons," but he has expanded his anti-Second Amendment stance since he launched a bid for the presidency. After his Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke endorsed a federally mandated gun confiscation program in August, the New Jersey senator soon followed suit.
While neither Booker nor O'Rourke has provided clarity on which guns would be required to turn over to the government, Booker introduced legislation in 2017 defining "assault weapons" as a class-based solely on the firearm's cosmetic feature, such as if has an attached pistol grip or a telescope stock.
"Look, I hate when Democrats use the language that Republicans try to use to scare people away, as opposed to sort of the pragmatism and practicality of this," Booker said. "In the 1980s, we said machine guns don't belong on our streets and we banned them and we don't see those in mass shootings, we don't see them in neighborhoods like mine doing kind of damage."
"We have seen around this world, countries have said enough of these assault rifles. They dealt with the problem and they got them off their streets," he continued. "These weapons should not be in this country, they should not be allowed to be accessed by folks who are trying to do such evil things. We can find practical ways to end the nightmare of these weapons that belong in military theaters and not neighborhoods and communities – we can get it done."
While Booker contended that logistically, a mandatory buyback program would be carried out "the same way we got machine guns done" after the National Firearms Act was passed in 1986, he declined to provide further detail.
"We have evidence-based models of how to get this done in a peaceful way … and by the way, the majority of Americans believe that these weapons do not belong on our streets and neighborhoods," Booker said. "This is not something beyond us and I'm not going to let the fear-mongers and the demagogues win the day on this."
"We have a crisis in this country," he added. "It must end and we must do the common sense things to get it done."