Opponents Of Gun Bills Criticize Process

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Two gun-related bills have passed in the Delaware State Senate, but opponents and critics Thursday continued to question their constitutionality. They have also spoken out about the process that led to their passage.

One bill would a permit and training to purchase a handgun. The other would outlaw sale of large-capacity magazines capable of holding more than 17 rounds.

Thursday’s Senate vote was hailed by bill sponsors as a step toward more responsible gun ownership and reducing firepower of deadly weapons.

“For years, Delawareans have urged us to pass bold public safety reforms capable of stemming the gun violence that has brought bloodshed and devastation to our communities,” Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman said about the bill she sponsors, SS1 for SB 3. “They asked us to raise the level of responsible gun ownership in this state. They expected us to give law enforcement the tools they need. And they demanded that we show courage in fulfilling our promises to them. Today, my colleagues in the Senate did exactly that and showed that Delawareans will no longer allow vocal hard liners to stand in the way of progress as more innocent lives are taken from us with each passing week.” 

The sponsor of SB 6, Senate President pro tempore David Sokola, D-Newark, cited studies which found that up to 36-percent of guns used in crimes were equipped with large-capacity magazines.

“Our federal government has failed to act despite clear evidence the 10-year federal ban on large-capacity magazines worked,” Sokola said. “I am incredibly proud of my colleagues in the Senate for refusing to accept their inaction as an excuse. Delaware today took a substantial step forward in addressing gun violence and I am incredibly proud of my colleagues for their courage and their conviction.” 

Opponents continue to question whether these measures would keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

“As a gun dealer, there is just so much wrong with these bills and I know that they’re going to be challenged if they get the Governor’s signature,” Senate Minority Leader Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View said. “Business people, hunters, gun owners, Second Amendment constituents are willing to put money up.”

Senate Minority Whip Brian Pettyjohn, R- Georgetown, said Wednesday’s Judiciary Hearing on the bills that was held virtually left out many people who wanted to comment, and several speakers were cut off in mid-sentence after one minute.

Pettyjohn said that although the bills were similar to ones that were brought up in the past, these measures were rushed.

“There has not been a lot of time for the public, even if they knew what was in previous versions of the bill in previous General Assemblies, to fully vet and analyze these new bills,” Pettyjohn said. “There was not enough time for certain groups to get memberships together or boards together to discuss these bills, to take a formal position on these bills before they came to the Senate.”

Both bills are going to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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