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New Responsible Gun Safety Measures Earn Support of Law Enforcement

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: Newark, DE

Law enforcement pledged its support to four common-sense public safety measures Governor Jack Markell introduced today to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill and people under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Markell was joined by law enforcement officers from around the state, Attorney General Beau Biden, Wilmington Mayor Jim Baker and legislators including House Majority Whip Valerie Longhurst.

"These bills are about finding some common-sense answers to improve public safety and better protect our state's bright future," Markell said.

The bills would close the "gun-show loophole," prohibit the possession of a firearm by individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol, improve reporting requirements to prevent mentally ill individuals from purchasing deadly weapons and give law enforcement a responsible method to dispose of seized firearms.
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Attorney General Beau Biden said the measures are "responsible efforts" designed to provide greater protection for citizens, "to make us more safe, and to make more safe the brave men and women who serve us every day in law enforcement."

The unveiling was held at State Police Troop 2, in the conference room named after Detective Robert Paris, who was shot to death in the line of duty. State Police Colonel Robert Coupe made clear that this legislation would help protect men and women who serve as State Troopers and as law enforcement officers across the state.

"This is about helping our Troopers -- and any law enforcement officer across the state - do their job. It's about helping those Troopers -- or anyone coming home from any job in the state, even kids coming home from school -- get home safely," Coupe said.

The Governor was joined by local law enforcement from around the state. Yesterday, he briefed the Delaware Police Chiefs Council on the proposals, and they responded with strong support.

"Their reaction was both swift and certain -- they voted, right there and then -- to lend their support to these common sense measures, which are designed to protect public safety, to improve their ability to protect the rights of responsible gun owners and to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous criminals, the mentally ill, and people in no state of mind to make a rational decision about the gun on their hip or in their hand," Markell said.
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Markell thanked the legislators for their leadership in sponsoring and co-sponsoring the four pieces of legislation, which includes:

1. Closing the Gun-Show Loophole

Individuals purchasing weapons from a federally licensed gun dealer, such as a store, must undergo background checks. But under current law, any adult can buy a deadly weapon at a gun show-- including dangerous criminals and the mentally ill--and no background check is required. It is extremely easy for criminals or juveniles to buy as many guns as they want as these shows, and it is almost impossible for police to trace these weapons when they are used in a crime.

This bill would close the "gun-show loophole" by requiring vendors to have a licensed firearms dealer perform a background check prior to the sale, delivery or transfer of any firearm at a gun show. Under existing law, firearms dealers are already required to perform background checks on the buyer or transferee in private sales. This bill would not require licensed dealers to perform background checks at gun shows, but would permit them to do so. The same penalties would apply to violations of these provisions as currently apply for violations of background checks laws applicable to private sales.

"If a person walks into a licensed firearms dealer and tries to buy a weapon, he can't get that weapon unless he passes a background check. That just makes sense. It protects all of us. But for some reason, this common-sense measure does not apply to gun shows and should," Markell said.

The gun-show loophole legislation will be led by is sponsored by Senator Harris McDowell with Reps. Barbieri, Bolden, Heffernan, Jaques, Keeley, Longhurst, Mitchell, Schooley, Schwartzkopf, Scott, B. Short, and D.P. Williams, Dennis E. Williams and Sens. Henry, Marshall, Peterson, Sokola, and Sorenson.

2. Banning Possession of Weapons by Individuals Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

This bill makes it illegal for individuals to possess firearms outside of their homes while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. First offenders shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor, and will have their permit to carry a concealed deadly weapon revoked. In addition, such persons will not be permitted to obtain another CDW permit for 5 years from the date of conviction for a first offense. Second and subsequent offenses are class G felonies.

"It's simple. You cannot drive a car while drunk or intoxicated because you cannot make a rational decision about your actions. People in no state of mind to make a rational decision about their weapon should not have a gun on their hip, hand or holster," Markell said.

The intoxication legislation will be led by Senators Marshall and Henry with Reps. Barbieri, Bolden, Heffernan, Jaques, Keeley, Longhurst, Schwartzkopf, Scott, and D.P. Williams, D. E. Williams, and Sens. McDowell, Peterson, and Sokola.

3. Improving Reporting to Federal NICS Database

Federal law bans mentally ill individuals from owning firearms, but many states, including Delaware, have provided little information to the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System ("NICS") database. Delaware law provides that the State Bureau of Identification will receive such information, but does not require that it be provided to NICS. This bill would remedy that problem by requiring that information to be provided to NICS. The bill will also abolish the state's existing firearms transaction program, which will be duplicative.

"We are reminded time and again why the federal government made clear that individuals legally determined to be mentally ill would be prohibited from owning and possessing firearms. This bill would move that effort significantly forward at the state level," Attorney General Biden said. "This is one of the more important things we can do for reasonable and responsible efforts to improve public safety."

The federal database legislation will be led by House Majority Whip Longhurst with Reps. Barbieri, Bolden, Heffernan, Jaques, Keeley, Longhurst, D.E. Williams, Mitchell, Schooley, Schwartzkopf, Scott, B. Short, and D.P. Williams, and Sens. Henry, Marshall, McDowell, Peterson, Sokola and Sorenson.

4. Disposal of Seized Firearms

Thousands of relinquished firearms are stored in evidence lockers in law enforcement agencies throughout the State. This bill will allow law enforcement to dispose of these firearms, and provides a procedure for doing so. Under this process, the last-known owner will receive written notice of the law enforcement agency's intention to dispose of the weapon, and will have an opportunity to show that he or she has the right to claim it. If he or she cannot make that showing, or if no party claims the weapon, the law enforcement agency may dispose of it after a 60-day period.

In addition, this bill will for the first time allow law enforcement to dispose of firearms seized from individuals subject to protection-from-abuse orders. Law enforcement shall not dispose of a firearm during the pendency of a PFA Order, but may do so after its expiration of the PFA order, provided the above procedures are followed

The weapons disposal legislation will be led by retired police officer Representative Dennis P. Williams with Reps. Barbieri, Bolden, Heffernan, Jaques, Keeley, Longhurst, Mitchell, Schooley, Schwartzkopf, Scott, and B. Short, and D.E. Williams and Sens. Henry, Marshall, McDowell, Peterson Sokola, and Sorenson.

"This effort would give a responsible opportunity to dispose of some of the weapons that are clogging and cluttering facilities like ours across the state," Col. Coupe said.

The legislation is one part of a larger public safety agenda that Governor Markell unveiled during his state of the state. That effort includes working with entities across the state to improve school safety, tasking Secretary Lew Schiliro of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security who previously lead the FBI office in New York City to work with the Attorney General's Office and county and city officials to coordinate law enforcement efforts for greater effectiveness, and forthcoming legislation on drunk driving.

"So much of what we spend our time focusing on is getting people back to work and making sure our kids have the strongest possible public schools -- on improving our economy right now and ensuring its prosperity in the future," Markell said. "But none of it means anything if our employers, their employees, our state's kids and their families, our senior citizens, are not kept more safe."

Attorney General Beau Biden said the measures are "responsible efforts" designed to provide greater protection for citizens, "to make us more safe, and to make more safe the brave men and women who serve us every day in law enforcement."

The unveiling was held at State Police Troop 2, in the conference room named after Detective Robert Paris, who was shot to death in the line of duty. State Police Colonel Robert Coupe made clear that this legislation would help protect men and women who serve as State Troopers and as law enforcement officers across the state.

"This is about helping our Troopers -- and any law enforcement officer across the state - do their job. It's about helping those Troopers -- or anyone coming home from any job in the state, even kids coming home from school -- get home safely," Coupe said.

The Governor was joined by local law enforcement from around the state. Yesterday, he briefed the Delaware Police Chiefs Council on the proposals, and they responded with strong support.

"Their reaction was both swift and certain -- they voted, right there and then -- to lend their support to these common sense measures, which are designed to protect public safety, to improve their ability to protect the rights of responsible gun owners and to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous criminals, the mentally ill, and people in no state of mind to make a rational decision about the gun on their hip or in their hand," Markell said.

Markell thanked the legislators for their leadership in sponsoring and co-sponsoring the four pieces of legislation, which includes:

1. Closing the Gun-Show Loophole

Individuals purchasing weapons from a federally licensed gun dealer, such as a store, must undergo background checks. But under current law, any adult can buy a deadly weapon at a gun show-- including dangerous criminals and the mentally ill--and no background check is required. It is extremely easy for criminals or juveniles to buy as many guns as they want as these shows, and it is almost impossible for police to trace these weapons when they are used in a crime.

This bill would close the "gun-show loophole" by requiring vendors to have a licensed firearms dealer perform a background check prior to the sale, delivery or transfer of any firearm at a gun show. Under existing law, firearms dealers are already required to perform background checks on the buyer or transferee in private sales. This bill would not require licensed dealers to perform background checks at gun shows, but would permit them to do so. The same penalties would apply to violations of these provisions as currently apply for violations of background checks laws applicable to private sales.

"If a person walks into a licensed firearms dealer and tries to buy a weapon, he can't get that weapon unless he passes a background check. That just makes sense. It protects all of us. But for some reason, this common-sense measure does not apply to gun shows and should," Markell said.

The gun-show loophole legislation will be led by is sponsored by Senator Harris McDowell with Reps. Barbieri, Bolden, Heffernan, Jaques, Keeley, Longhurst, Mitchell, Schooley, Schwartzkopf, Scott, B. Short, and D.P. Williams, Dennis E. Williams and Sens. Henry, Marshall, Peterson, Sokola, and Sorenson.

2. Banning Possession of Weapons by Individuals Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

This bill makes it illegal for individuals to possess firearms outside of their homes while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. First offenders shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor, and will have their permit to carry a concealed deadly weapon revoked. In addition, such persons will not be permitted to obtain another CDW permit for 5 years from the date of conviction for a first offense. Second and subsequent offenses are class G felonies.

"It's simple. You cannot drive a car while drunk or intoxicated because you cannot make a rational decision about your actions. People in no state of mind to make a rational decision about their weapon should not have a gun on their hip, hand or holster," Markell said.

The intoxication legislation will be led by Senators Marshall and Henry with Reps. Barbieri, Bolden, Heffernan, Jaques, Keeley, Longhurst, Schwartzkopf, Scott, and D.P. Williams, D. E. Williams, and Sens. McDowell, Peterson, and Sokola.

3. Improving Reporting to Federal NICS Database

Federal law bans mentally ill individuals from owning firearms, but many states, including Delaware, have provided little information to the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System ("NICS") database. Delaware law provides that the State Bureau of Identification will receive such information, but does not require that it be provided to NICS. This bill would remedy that problem by requiring that information to be provided to NICS. The bill will also abolish the state's existing firearms transaction program, which will be duplicative.

"We are reminded time and again why the federal government made clear that individuals legally determined to be mentally ill would be prohibited from owning and possessing firearms. This bill would move that effort significantly forward at the state level," Attorney General Biden said. "This is one of the more important things we can do for reasonable and responsible efforts to improve public safety."

The federal database legislation will be led by House Majority Whip Longhurst with Reps. Barbieri, Bolden, Heffernan, Jaques, Keeley, Longhurst, D.E. Williams, Mitchell, Schooley, Schwartzkopf, Scott, B. Short, and D.P. Williams, and Sens. Henry, Marshall, McDowell, Peterson, Sokola and Sorenson.

4. Disposal of Seized Firearms

Thousands of relinquished firearms are stored in evidence lockers in law enforcement agencies throughout the State. This bill will allow law enforcement to dispose of these firearms, and provides a procedure for doing so. Under this process, the last-known owner will receive written notice of the law enforcement agency's intention to dispose of the weapon, and will have an opportunity to show that he or she has the right to claim it. If he or she cannot make that showing, or if no party claims the weapon, the law enforcement agency may dispose of it after a 60-day period.

In addition, this bill will for the first time allow law enforcement to dispose of firearms seized from individuals subject to protection-from-abuse orders. Law enforcement shall not dispose of a firearm during the pendency of a PFA Order, but may do so after its expiration of the PFA order, provided the above procedures are followed

The weapons disposal legislation will be led by retired police officer Representative Dennis P. Williams with Reps. Barbieri, Bolden, Heffernan, Jaques, Keeley, Longhurst, Mitchell, Schooley, Schwartzkopf, Scott, and B. Short, and D.E. Williams and Sens. Henry, Marshall, McDowell, Peterson Sokola, and Sorenson.

"This effort would give a responsible opportunity to dispose of some of the weapons that are clogging and cluttering facilities like ours across the state," Col. Coupe said.

The legislation is one part of a larger public safety agenda that Governor Markell unveiled during his state of the state. That effort includes working with entities across the state to improve school safety, tasking Secretary Lew Schiliro of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security who previously lead the FBI office in New York City to work with the Attorney General's Office and county and city officials to coordinate law enforcement efforts for greater effectiveness, and forthcoming legislation on drunk driving.

"So much of what we spend our time focusing on is getting people back to work and making sure our kids have the strongest possible public schools -- on improving our economy right now and ensuring its prosperity in the future," Markell said. "But none of it means anything if our employers, their employees, our state's kids and their families, our senior citizens, are not kept more safe."


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