DOVER, Del. - Debate on expanding background checks for gun sales took center stage in Dover Wednesday afternoon, but that debate didn't last nearly as long as many people wanted.
The proposal went before the House Judiciary Committee. It was the first of many hearings to come on gun control. And it could be seen as setting the tone for all of the discussions on all the proposals to follow. If that is the case, then the tone at Legislative Hall is going to be a contentious one.
So many people showed up for the hearing it had to be moved from a small room into the house chamber itself. After 30 minutes of discussion, lawmakers took public comment.
"Although this legislation as introduced is well-intentioned," said Rick Armitage. "We don't believe it will get to the crux of the problem - that criminals will obey the new law and it will actually make the state of Delaware safer."
"We find ourselves here today having to speak against this bill," Jeff Hauge said. "Not only because it will not solve the problem, but because it is also lacking in many ways."
"I've read the bill," said Mark Hester, a former Dover police officer. "Based on my experience as a law enforcement officer. It's not going to stop criminals dealing illegal guns to other criminals."
The plan requires background checks of all private gun sales, except in specific cases. That list includes the sale or transfer of a gun within a family and the sale of antique or replica firearms.
Eight people spoke against part or all of the bill. Only one person spoke in favor. She pointed out polls have shown broad national support for more background checks.
"80 to 90 percent of Americans support criminal checks in all cases," said Emily Knearl. "We need it in Delaware."
After nine speakers attention turned to the clock. The full house was about to go into session. So time was running out on the hearing, and more than 30 people still wanted to speak.
Committee chair Rep. Rebecca Walker, D-Middletown, tried to continue the hearing in a different, smaller room. But Rep. Dave Wilson, R-Bridgeville, worried that wouldn't give people a fair chance to be heard.
"We've got people who came to Dover for a hearing, we're rushing them into something of about 13 minutes by my watch. It's a very serious situation here. I motion that we table it."
That suggestion met with the approval from the audience. It also had enough support from representatives to move ahead.
The continuation of the hearing has been scheduled for March 20 at 2:30 p.m., again in the House chamber.
Thursday, December 5 2013 8:53 PM EST2013-12-06 01:53:54 GMT
MILFORD, Del. - It was like a scene from a Hollywood movie.A high speed chase through Eastern Sussex County that eventually ended near Milford, but not after a 70-mile cat-and-mouse game with police. PoliceMore
Police officers chased 45-year old Jorge Vasquez for almost two hours through multiple towns. That has some people questioning whether police should have stopped the pursuit.More
Thursday, December 5 2013 8:40 PM EST2013-12-06 01:40:13 GMT
MILFORD, Del. - Walking inside of Bonnie and Hank McCann's Milford home, you'll find a Christmas wonderland of sorts. "It just kind of gives you that wonderland effect walking in the door," said BonnieMore
Walking inside of Bonnie and Hank McCann's Milford home, you'll find a Christmas wonderland of sorts.More
Thursday, December 5 2013 7:23 PM EST2013-12-06 00:23:26 GMT
SALISBURY, Md.-Late last week Salisbury City Council President, Jake Day was pulled over in Anne Arundel County. According to online Maryland Court records he's accused that day of driving 73mph in aMore
Late last week Salisbury City Council President, Jake Day was pulled over in Anne Arundel County.
According to online Maryland Court records he's accused that day of driving 73mph in a 55mph zone.
Thursday, December 5 2013 3:55 PM EST2013-12-05 20:55:07 GMT
Princess Anne, MD –Maryland State Police criminal investigators arrested two suspects today in the murder of Adrian Lurele Marshall in Princess Anne. Police say those arrested are identified as BrandonMore
Maryland State Police on Thursday arrested two suspects in connection with last week's fatal shooting of a Princess Anne man.More
A high-speed police chase that traversed eastern Sussex County ended in Milford on Wednesday afternoon, authorities say. Georgetown Police say they've arrested 45 year old Jorge Vasquez for reckless endangering, resisting arrest, failure to stop on command of a police officer and numerous other traffic offenses, in connection with today's chase.More