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Politics and Policy

Sen. Cory Booker Talks Guns And Urban-Rural Divide

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
Jamelle Bouie via Flickr - Creative Commons
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker

Democratic presidential candidates looking to win the Silver State next year have been doing everything in the power to drum up support ahead of Nevada's Democratic Caucus in February. For New Jersey Senator Cory Booker though, winning Nevada is personal with his family, including his parents and grandparents, having put down roots in Clark County. KUNR's Paul Boger spoke to Booker while at a recent campaign event.

Like many Democrats, Booker has taken a strong stance in favor of gun control reform, calling on Congress to pass universal background checks, a renewed assault weapon ban, and gun licensing. He says as president, his administration would take a strong stance on gun violence.

"If I'm President of the United States, I'm bringing a fight to this issue like the [National Rifle Association] or the corporate gun lobby have never seen before," Booker says. "What I know is that there is so much more agreement on this issue than disagreement. Over 90 percent of gun owners believe that we should have universal background checks. Over 80 percent of Americans believe that we should have gun licensing. There are things we could do if we have a president that is going to make this a major priority of their administration... This is a mission for me."

For Booker, that may be a message that resonates in Southern Nevada, home of the worst mass shooting in modern American history. However, in rural parts of the state where some counties have declared themselves 2nd Amendment Sanctuaries -- an attempt to buck a universal background check law passed by lawmakers earlier this year -- that message may not work for traditionally conservative voters. He says that's partly because leaders have not done enough to work with rural voters.

"The challenge we have right now in this country is I just do not think rural communities have had the right vision in a president," Booker says. "The things that are going on in rural America [are] not fait accompli, the decline in population you see from so many rural counties. What we need to do is start to have a vision and see the worth of all of our communities, and begin to actually have a plan. I think we need, for example, infrastructure. We need a rule Marshall Project to make sure we are focusing on everything from health care delivery all the way to critical infrastructure like broadband access."

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