Democratic Sen. Cory Booker was pressed on CNN on Thursday over legislation he supports that would bar individuals on the FBI terrorist watch list from buying firearms.
Appearing on “Legal View,” the New Jersey senator was asked to respond to criticism from his Republican colleagues who fear that “no fly, no buy” legislation could wrongly strip some Americans of their Second Amendment rights.
Democrats have renewed calls for such a law in the wake of the Orlando terrorist attack.
CNN host Ashleigh Banfield asked:
This is what the Republicans on the other side of your debate are saying. In one circumstance, it’s not a constitutional right to get on a plane, but in the other circumstance it is a constitutional right to get a gun and that it’s not quite that simple. Do you at least sympathize with that side of the debate?
Booker said that he takes “every amendment seriously,” but argued that no right was absolute.
“The First Amendment, the right to free speech. I’ve got that right. But it’s not an absolute right,” he said. “I can’t run into a crowded movie theater and yell ‘fire.’ I can’t slander other people. There are reasonable limitations.”
And so if you go to an America right now and say, is it reasonable that if somebody’s under FBI investigation, if they have been put on a list where they are considered too dangerous to fly, under that narrow circumstance is it a reasonable restriction on the Second Amendment rights to say, hey, you know what, at least while you’re under this investigation and you’re not allowed to fly on a plane, isn’t it a reasonable thing to say you should not be able to buy a truckload full of assault weapons.?
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June16, 2016
Banfield continued to press Booker on the subject. The CNN host said she felt that “reasonable minds can differ” from Booker’s position and used an illustration of a single mother to make her point.
“If a single mother who lives in a rural area and wants a gun to protect herself is mistakenly put on that watch list, and thus cannot buy that gun, that this is where the Republicans want that extra layer,” she said, referencing legislation introduced by Senate Republicans on Thursday that would do just that. “So is that extra layer, is that problematic to you?”
“Well, it’s not problematic. And, in fact, the Feinstein bill understands that mistakes are made and there should be a reasonable process to grieve this and get back on,” Booker replied, referencing the legislation proposed by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California that would ban those on the terror watch list from buying a gun.
He added that the odds of the terrorist watch-list legislation affecting a single mother who sought to buy a firearm for defense would be very low.
“Not if she’s put on a terror watch list by mistake, though,” Banfield quipped. “And I – I want to be really clear about that.”
“Hold on. Hold on, hold on. And I – and I’m being clear with you that that is a small group of people and the Feinstein legislation has due process elements baked into it so that person can grieve that and do it,” Booker countered.
Booker added that Republican-backed legislation introduced by Sen. John Cornyn of Texas would create a “really impossible hurdle for the FBI” to stop a suspected terrorist from obtaining a gun.