Background Checks Bill Clears Del. House Committee - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Background Checks Bill Clears Del. House Committee

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DOVER, Del. - The first of five proposed gun control bills in Delaware cleared a major hurdle in Legislative Hall Wednesday. But not before about 70 people had their voices heard.

Wednesday's discussion was over background checks for almost all private gun sales.

There was a hearing on the bill last Wednesday, too. But so many people came to testify the hearing ran out of time. This time even more people signed up to speak this time around than did last time.

At last week's hearing speakers were heavily against the bill. This week it was a more even pro-con split.

"I'm here as a gun owner in support of HB 35," said Sandi Bisgood, of Lewes. "It is important we put this bill in a realistic perspective. It won't keep the hands of every criminal off of guns, but it will make it a little more difficult for bad guys to get their hands on a gun."

"The only people who will obey this law are law-abiding citizens," Tom Whittendale, of Hartly, said. "Who are usually very careful on to whom they sell their guns. This gun bill penalizes citizens rather than criminals."

Police officers, both current and former, made up a sizeable portion of those who testified. And they came down on opposing sides of the issue.

"There is no routine in police work," said Kurt Price, a former trooper. "It's dangerous. It's inherently dangerous. House Bill 35 will do absolutely nothing to make a police officers life more protected."

"It's going to do no good to register guns," said Lacey Lafferty, also a former trooper. "We have adequate gun laws on the books today. Don't knee-jerk reaction bills to something that's already in place and is working."

"It is reasonable for us as public safety professionals to ensure that the process of purchasing a firearm is fair and consistent whether it's purchased through a store or a private party or an Internet sale," said Sgt. Jeff Whitmash, with the Delaware State Police.

The bill cleared the House Judiciary Committee largely along party lines. It now heads to the full house.

House staff says that vote could happen as early as next week. The governor's staff says Delaware should see two more gun control bills introduced in the legislature this week - including the one banning high-capacity magazines.

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