Legislature advances gun control measures (Scott Goss)
Four gun-control bills were advanced out of committee just hours after the school walkouts. And Gov. John Carney held a private meeting with “students who helped to organize the local protests.” Carney afterwards lauded the student demonstrators and said “all adults should be listening and should share their sense of urgency.” President Trump’s recent proposals are characterized as insufficient; he “endured criticism for backing away from other measures” that he had previously seemed to endorse such as near-universal background checks and raising the age limit for rifle purchases. Delaware appears poised to enact more far-reaching laws.
#BUMP STOCKS (HB 300) – This bill has already been approved by the House (26-3, with 11 Republicans abstaining); it was proposed after the Las Vegas mass shooting. An NRA lobbyist testified in favor of the bill, even though critics have suggested that it could class people who had legally purchased these devices under previous law as felons and doesn’t provide any disposal options for the devices other than turning them into the police without compensation.
#STRAW MAN PURCHASES (HB 174) - Bill would raise maximum penalty for first time offenders from 3 to 5 years, keep max for subsequent offenders at 15 years. NRA rep. said “we support anything that deters crime.”
#MINIMUM AGE FOR RIFLE PURCHASES (HB 330) would raise the age from 18 to 21, which NRA has previously contended would be unconstitutional. NRA rep. encouraged committee to advance the bill, but reportedly noted that “legality remains a question.” Several students from Newark High and Newark Charter spoke in favor of the bill based on moral responsibility to the Parkland victims.
#MENTAL HEALTH (HB 302) – Under the bill, armed with a report from a mental health professional, the police could go to a Justice of the Peace court and get permission to seize a subject’s guns for 60 days. Meanwhile, DOJ could petition Superior Court to keep the guns longer. NRA rep. called this “a good bill,” although the ACLU has complained that the gun owner should be entitled to attend the initial hearing.
Over 100 people attended this hearing, many of them students; the House gallery was packed. Perhaps 15 students (half an hour divided by 2 minutes each) testified during the course of the hearing, and they were all called before any critics (actual or potential) were given an opportunity to speak. While the students were speaking, there was considerable applause from the gallery, which the presiding legislator (Rep. Valerie Longhurst) failed to discourage. The statement by citizen activist John Nichols (next story down) was not mentioned in this story.