Gun control puts the "Delaware way" to the test (Matthew Albright)

The anti-gun and pro-gun factions should compromise their differences in order to constructively respond to the threat of mass shootings, etc. After all, that’s the Delaware Way – which, however, “suffered a serious blow last year when the General Assembly missed its June 30 budget deadline for the first time in decades.” This year, the gun control debate is going strong in Delaware; the General Assembly is “debating multiple major pieces of legislation, some of which have bipartisan support.” But with the legislative session more than halfway over, only one of those bills (increased penalties for “straw purchases” of guns) has been enacted. More substantive bills face “uncertain fates.” (A) HB 302 - Bill to seize guns of a person deemed a threat by mental health professionals. After adjustments in response to due process objections, this proposal was passed unanimously by the House. But the bill must still pass the Senate, and in 2013 a similar bill was blocked by that body. (B) House passed a “bump stock” ban, but it will have to vote again due to Senate amendments. House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst was angry about the amendments, but House should accept them rather than risk not getting the bill at all. (C) Similar situation re a bill to increase the minimum age to buy long guns from 18 to 21, which was qualified in several ways – e.g., family purchases for a minor, purchases by minors who are registered hunters – by Senate amendments. House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf “needs to decide whether these exemptions would weaken the bill so much that they are worth endangering its passage.”

How will this story end? SCENARIO ONE: Several significant bills pass with bipartisan consensus. SCENARIO TWO: Most of the bills fail, in which case “expect Democrats to try and bludgeon swing-district Republicans with their no votes in elections this fall. Hmm, “that’s the kind of hardball politics Congress and many other states play,” and some Democrats would probably be pleased because they think their party leaders obsess about bipartisanship while ducking tough decisions. “Don’t get me wrong . . . [I recognize that] the ‘Delaware way’ is far too focused on avoiding controversy. But if Delaware starts turning every issue into a big ideological battle, the General Assembly could easily end up looking like [shudder] our gridlocked, do-nothing Congress.”

This discussion omits the most controversial proposal in play: an “assault weapons” ban.
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