Locals, Officials React To Del. Gun Safety Proposal - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Locals, Officials React To Del. Gun Safety Proposal

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WILMINGTON, Del. - With recent talks about banning guns, local shop owner Mark Derrickson says business is booming.

"I can't keep guns in here," said Derrickson, who owns M&L Guns in Dagsboro.

But after the tragedy at Sandy Hook, Delaware legislators are attacking the issue of gun violence with new safety proposals.

"It's just an infringement of our Second Amendment rights, the right to keep and bare arms. For one thing, the state of Delaware has no business coming in here and overstepping the federal government."

Officials say the five-part plan is to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not possess them and make communities safer. It includes background checks for private sales, reporting of stolen firearms, banning large-capacity magazines and military weapons while implementing a 1,000 feet rule between weapons and schools (See below for description of each proposal).

"After seeing now what has happened elsewhere around the country, I think I and all of the other parents are very concerned about having our kids safe and secure in their schools," said Lt. Gov. Matt Denn (D).

"I don't think there's an argument out there that you should be able to go out and buy an F-15 and put it in your parking lot," said Del. Attorney General Beau Biden.

However, this proposal won't affect those who already own a weapon.

"People have the right to go hunting [and] they have a right to have a handgun in their house to protect themselves," said former State Sen. Liane Sorenson, who joined recently formed Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence. "We're not taking those kinds of guns away, but I don't see where anyone needs an assault rifle."

"If you're going by the rounds of ammo, you might as well get them all. If you're going to take one, take them all," said Derrickson.

While in Wilmington, WMDT also spoke with a Delaware man, who works with inner-city youth,  to talk about the gun crime. He says the issue of gun control goes beyond the state's initial response.

"You have thousands of African Americans that are essentially shooting other African Americans," said Dwight Davis, Motivational Center, Inc. president. "Attention needs to be paid to the root causes of inner city's crime related to gun violence."

Davis adds that he would like to see guns taken off the street.

Legislation on each of the proposals will be introduced in the General Assembly over the next two weeks, with all bills expected to be introduced by January 24th.


Gun Safety Proposal:

1. Requiring Background Checks for Private Firearm Sales: Under existing law, when the sale or transfer of a firearm involves a licensed dealer, a background check must be performed.  But when the sale or transfer does not involve a licensed dealer, and occurs between private buyers, no check is required.  Because approximately 40% of all firearms nationwide are acquired from unlicensed sellers, this is an enormous loophole—one in which convicted felons, minors and other prohibited purchasers can readily avoid background checks and easily acquire guns. This bill would require that licensed dealers perform background checks in connection with the sale or transfer of all firearms, including sales between private buyers, except for transfers involving immediate family (parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, sibling or spouse).  The background check requirement would not apply to the sale or transfer of shotguns, as no such check is required under current law for licensed dealers. 

2. Requiring the Reporting of Lost and Stolen Firearms:  There are two primary public safety benefits to requiring the reporting of lost and stolen firearms.  First, it discourages straw purchases and deters gun trafficking.  When a gun is found at a crime scene and later traced back to the original owner, the owner may falsely claim that a gun was lost or stolen in order to hide his involvement in trafficking or straw purchasing.  A mandatory reporting requirement provides law enforcement notice of suspicious patterns of behavior by persons who repeatedly fail to file reports yet claim that their guns were lost or stolen after the guns were recovered from a crime scene. And second, it helps prevent unwarranted criminal accusations against owners whose guns have been lost or stolen.  This bill would require individuals report a lost or stolen firearm within 48 hours of discovery.  Individuals would file a report with either the police agency having jurisdiction over the location where the loss or theft occurred, or any Delaware State Police Troop. 

3. Banning the Sale, Manufacture, Delivery and Unlawful Possession of Large-Capacity Magazines: According to the Citizens Crime Commission of New York, 30 mass shootings (with four or more victims killed) occurred in the United States from 1982 through 2012.  Although the circumstances of such mass shootings varied, each incident had one thing in common: they all involved one or more large-capacity ammunition magazines.  This bill would prohibit the manufacture, sale, purchase, transfer or delivery of large-capacity magazines.  Large-capacity magazines are defined as magazines having the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds for any handgun and more than 5 rounds for any rifle or shotgun.  Acknowledging that thousands of law-abiding Delawareans currently possess large-capacity magazines lawfully, the bill would make such possession unlawful only if it occurs (1) in a public place (which would include highways, schools, parks, restaurants, bars, and similar locations), and (2) within 20 feet of a firearm capable of accepting such magazine.  The bill would exempt certain shooting ranges from the definition of "public place," so that the possession and use of large-capacity magazines at such ranges would not be prohibited.

4. Banning the Manufacture, Sale, Delivery and Unlawful Possession of Military Weapons: The sale of military-style assault weapons – firearms that are made for the battlefield and have no place in our communities – was outlawed in 1994, but the ban expired a decade later.  One such weapon – the Bushmaster AR-15 – was used in the Newtown shootings and also in the murders of two firefighters in Webster, NY, on Christmas Eve last year. This bill would prohibit the manufacture, sale and delivery of these military weapons, while allowing the continued possession and use under certain circumstances of weapons purchased prior to the effective date of the ban.

5. Banning Possession of a Firearm Within 1,000 Feet of a School: This bill will help to ensure the safety of children in our schools.  By outlawing possession of a firearm in close proximity to school, we will enable law enforcement to interdict those individuals who knowingly possess firearms and do so in near school buildings and school yards. The purpose of this law is to create safe school zones, where children are secure, where parents can have peace of mind that upon leaving them in the morning, they will not be subjected to gun violence, and where teachers can go about their important task of educating our youth without fear of violence.  This is not intended to restrict the right of law abiding citizens to own guns.  Nor is it intended to restrict those law abiding citizens who reside near schools, as the law specifically exempts them from its prohibitions while the guns are on their property.  The law, likewise, is not intended to inhibit those individuals who possess concealed weapons permits from carrying firearms in conformity with the permits. 

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