With dozens of law enforcement officers from throughout the state gathered at New Castle County's Police Public Safety building, Governor Jack Markell signed into law four gun-safety bills that will help get illegal guns off the streets and make Delawareans safer.
The new laws:
* make illegal possession of a weapon in a public place while intoxicated;
* authorizes state agencies to report disqualifying mental health information to the federal background check database;
* provide a responsible procedure for law enforcement to dispose of unclaimed seized firearms; and
* establish a community gun buy-back program.
image: Governor Markell with Law enforcement
"In February of this year, when we stood with law enforcement to introduce our common-sense gun safety measures, many doubted that we could get so many of them done. But Delawareans spoke out in support, and -- thanks to the leadership of many in the General Assembly -- we have taken a great stride forward in the aim of reducing gun violence," said the Governor. "The bills I am signing today will help make our communities safer."
The four bills signed by Governor Markell include:
* SS1 for SB29, sponsored by Senator Margaret Rose Henry(D -- Wilmington East), makes it a crime to possess a firearm while in a public place under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
* HB 48, sponsored by Representative Valerie Longhurst (D -- Bear), authorizes state agencies to report information about mentally ill individuals to the federal NICS database. Delaware is one of only ten states that provide no mental health information to NICS.
* SB 25, sponsored by Senator Robert Marshall, (D -- Wilmington West) establishes a community firearm recovery or gun buy-back program. In coordination with community groups, police agencies will designate dates and times that individuals can surrender their firearms. As incentive and in exchange for their weapon, they will receive either money, coupons or gift vouchers.
* HB 46, sponsored by Representative Dennis P. Williams(D -- Wilmington North), establishes a procedure for law enforcement to dispose of relinquished firearms, thousands of which are currently stored in evidence lockers across Delaware.
Comments from sponsoring lawmakers from today's signing:
image: Governor Markell
"A weapon recovered in a gun buy-back program will be a weapon not used in a violent crime," said Senator Robert Marshall, regarding SB 25. "Special thanks to the Delaware State Troopers Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and Delaware Police Chiefs Council for working on this legislation."
"It took a lot of effort on everyone's part to get these bills passed, which will protect law enforcement and protect citizens," said Senator Margaret Rose Henry. Regarding SS1 for SB29, Henry said, "If you are intoxicated, you shouldn't be a danger to someone."
"Delaware will be safer for keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not legally possess them," said Representative Valerie Longhurst, regarding HB 48."This law is an important step in removing dangerous firearms from the community."