Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) criticized his Democratic primary rival, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, on Monday after Buttigieg referred to a federally mandated gun buyback program as a form of “confiscation.”
“Calling buyback programs ‘confiscation’ is doing the NRA’s work for them, [Buttigieg] — and they don’t need our help,” Booker said, referring to the pro-Second Amendment organization, the National Rifle Association (NRA).
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) October 14, 2019
Booker’s remarks come as Buttigieg and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) have been butting heads over the former congressman’s demand to seize millions of firearms from law-abiding citizens through a mandatory gun buyback program.
Democratic lawmakers have long been defending their gun control agenda against claims that the party wants to take away Americans’ firearms. Accordingly, Buttigieg slammed O’Rourke’s divisive rallying cries as playing directly into the hands of the Republican Party.
O’Rourke was the first major 2020 Democratic candidate to endorse a government-run gun confiscation program for so-called “assault weapons,” but a few of his primary challengers, including Booker, have since followed suit. To date, none of the candidates have provided a clear definition of what constitutes an “assault weapon” or details on how they plan to carry out the actual buyback program.
O’Rourke has touted both Republican and Democratic disapproval of the program, stating that “it shows me we are doing something right.” But the presidential hopeful has also taken particular offense to Buttigieg’s condemnation.
“I was really offended by those comments,” O’Rourke said earlier in October. “I think [Buttigieg] represents a kind of politics that is focused on poll-testing, and focus group-driving, and triangulating, and listening to consultants before you arrive at a position. I think our politics has to be about doing the right thing and saying the right thing.”
“This is a policy disagreement and it is about governing,” Buttigieg later responded to O’Rourke’s comments. “I get it, I mean he needs to pick a fight in order to stay relevant, but this is about a different of opinion on policy and my focus right now is getting something done.”
This is not the first time, however, that Booker has been especially critical of describing his proposed gun confiscation program as “confiscation.” Following the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) presidential debate in September, he told reporters 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.
“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,” Booker said at the time. “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.”
“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,” he later added.