Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is living proof that anyone in America can become a U.S. senator.
According to Article I, Section 3, Clause 3 of the Constitution, there are three qualifications to be a U.S. senator:
No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
Having an education, being intelligent, and even knowing how to read are not necessary.
The only other requirement is pledging to support the Constitution. According to Article VI of the Constitution,
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution….
The Constitution contains an official oath of office only for the president. However, every member of Congress from the very beginning of the government under the Constitution in 1789 has been required to take an oath of office. The original oath was simply this: “I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States.” For more than a hundred years, every senator and representative has been required to take the following oath of office:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
This includes Cory Booker, who has been the junior U.S. senator from New Jersey since 2013.
Senator Booker is one of the many Democrats seeking to be the Democratic presidential nominee in the 2020 election. In May of this year, he released his second major policy proposal. It concerns federal gun licensing. According to Booker’s proposal, current gun owners and first-time firearms buyers would have to apply for a gun license at a designated office. The applications would then have to be verified by the FBI. Current gun owners would have a transition period to obtain a federal license. Booker likened a gun license to a driver’s license, and argued that “a gun license demonstrates that a person is eligible and can meet certain safety and training standards necessary to own a gun.” His proposal, which he terms the “most sweeping gun-violence prevention plan ever put forth by a presidential candidate,” builds, so he maintains, on “rigorous evidence at the state level demonstrating the connection between gun licensing and reduction in gun violence.” Says Booker, “My plan to address gun violence is simple — we will make it harder for people who should not have a gun to get one.”
After a string of shootings in Boston back in July, Booker still managed to praise Massachusetts gun-licensing laws and blamed the lax gun laws in other states for contributing to gun violence in Massachusetts. He claimed that nearly 70 percent of the guns recovered by police in Massachusetts came from other states. Booker was scheduled to fly to Boston, but after his flight was delayed he instead spoke to reporters on a conference call about his plan to implement a nationwide federal gun-licensing program that would require any American seeking to purchase a gun of any kind to apply for a license. His plan would also “limit the number of handguns an owner can buy each month, make it easier to trace firearms back to their owner via ‘microstamping’ of guns, bar anyone on a terrorist watch list or convicted of domestic violence from purchasing a firearm, and set aside funds for research into the causes of gun violence and its effects on communities.” Referring to the out-of-state guns in Massachusetts, Booker stated, “This is why we need a national strategy, a federal group of laws. If we had a comprehensive, 50-state gun-safety agenda, this would end.”
In an appearance last month on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes,” Booker maintained that under his federal gun-licensing plan “law-abiding citizens” would have “nothing to worry about purchasing a gun.” He insisted that his plan “will dramatically stop the ability for people who want to do horrendous things to get weapons.” When Booker was asked whether his plan was constitutional even with the court’s jurisprudence, he replied, “I absolutely think so.”
I absolutely think not.
Now, from a practical standpoint, we know that Booker’s federal gun-licensing plan will not reduce gun violence any more than having a driver’s license means that no one will get in an auto accident. His plan will not stop anyone who has no criminal record and no history of mental illness from getting a gun and then using it to do “horrendous things.” His plan will not prevent “people who want to do horrendous things” from getting a gun “on the street” instead of getting it from a gun dealer. If a bad guy is going to shoot someone, then he is not too concerned about breaking the law and purchasing a gun illegally.
But from a constitutional perspective, Booker’s federal gun-licensing plan is even worse.
There are about thirty enumerated congressional powers listed throughout the body of the Constitution. Not one of them directly mentions handguns, pistols, rifles, assault rifles, shotguns, ammunition, bullets, clips, or magazines. Guns are mentioned only indirectly one time, in Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 16, where Congress is given the power to “provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia.” The power of Congress to control the manufacture, sale, and possession of guns, mandate background checks, register guns, and license gun dealers and gun owners is nowhere to be found.
But what about the Second Amendment?
The Second Amendment, which was added to the Constitution as part of the Bill of Rights, reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Second Amendment has no exceptions. It doesn’t say that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed — except when it comes to ending gun violence, thwarting school shootings, or preventing “people who want to do horrendous things to get weapons.” The Second Amendment confers no positive right. It recognizes a pre-existing right. The Second Amendment is merely a limitation on federal power to infringe gun rights in addition to the fact that there is no authority granted to the federal government by the Constitution to infringe them in the first place.
As much as Booker wants it too, the Constitution nowhere grants the federal government the authority to have a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), issue Federal Firearms Licenses (FFL), have a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), ban certain types of guns, ammunition, or magazines, regulate gun shows and sales, or have any gun laws whatsoever.
The United States was set up as a federal system of government where the states, through the Constitution, granted a limited number of powers to the national government. As the “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison, explained in Federalist No. 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite.”
Federal gun licensing is absolutely unconstitutional. Booker not only has an “F” rating from the NRA, he also gets an “F” in Constitution 101.