Del. Officials Unveil Gun Legislation - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Officials Unveil Gun Legislation

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(Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)

DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Delaware's governor announced planned gun control changes - exactly one month after the mass school shooting in Connecticut.

Gov. Jack Markell, Lt. Gov. Matt Denn and Atty. Gen. Beau Biden jointly announced the plan Monday morning.

"We must not arm those who would do harm," Gov. Markell said. "Instead, we must enact stronger laws to protect our communities."

The proposal has five distinct parts. Each one of those parts is definitely going to get a lot of discussion at Legislative Hall over the next few months.

The five-proposed law plan includes a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Another bill would require reporting of lost or stolen guns within 48-hours. A fourth would mandate background checks for private gun sales. The last creates a 1,000-foot gun-free zone around schools - a law that already exists at the federal level.

"I respect the second amendment," said Markell. "But these measures we propose today are entirely constitutional. I expect a robust debate. But I believe this is not a debate about the second amendment."

"We're open to hearing from responsible gun owners on how we can make them more practical and effective," Lt. Gov. Denn said. "But doing nothing is not an option."

Brian Brown owns Smyrna Sporting Goods, which sells guns, mainly for hunting. He's fine with three of the proposals - but isn't a fan of the assault weapon and high-capacity magazine part.

"I don't think banning that weapon is going to solve the problem - or banning any weapon for that matter. The problem is our society, not the weapon."

Republican lawmakers are calling the proposals "polarizing" - taking particular exception to Atty. Gen. Biden saying he expected a fight over these measures.

"It's not about a fight," said Rep. Danny Short, D-Seaford. "This is about protecting kids in schools. This is about finding solutions to the problems we have with people using handguns and other weapons to kill people."

The NRA released a statement saying, in part:"The law-abiding people of Delaware who responsibly exercise their right to own a gun are being demonized by Governor Markell and the Delaware lawmakers pushing this pervasive anti-gun agenda."

And the Delaware State Sportsmen's Association weighed in as well: "Governor Markell's proposals are based entirely upon an anti-gun bias which is insulting to every law-abiding gun owner, hunter, shooting sports participant, shooting recreationalist, and home defense enthusiast in the state."

Still, Biden thinks there's a good chance a majority of these will be law by the end of the legislative session.

"I think the universal background check will get through quickly," he said. "I'm hopeful the 1000-foot school prohibition would get through quickly. I'm hopeful on the mandatory reporting. But the assault weapons and high-capacity clips are going to be a fight."

Markell, Denn and Biden all acknowledged the federal government is currently working on potentially similar proposal. But - they agreed that didn't mean Delaware had to wait.

Gun rights groups say new gun laws aren't what is necessary after Sandy Hook. The governor says the state is also going to look at mental health and school safety. He says he will address both topics during his State of the State address Thursday.

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