Del. Atty. Gen. Biden Wants Tougher Gun Crime Laws - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Atty. Gen. Biden Wants Tougher Gun Crime Laws

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DOVER, Del.- Delaware lawmakers are looking at toughening penalties for criminals who carry guns.     

Guns have been a hot topic for Delaware lawmakers this year. Most of that has been in response to the massacre in Newtown, Conn. and Aurora, Colo. But Atty. Gen. Beau Biden, who's leading the push here, says plans to toughen these laws has been in the works for a year - long before Newtown.

Biden wants these proposals, announced Monday, to put criminals on notice.

"If you break the law again," Biden said. "Especially violent criminals who break the law by deciding to possess a deadly weapon - we're going to send a loud and clear message that you're going to go to jail for a whole heck of a lot of time."

The package includes four bills. The first would guarantee a one-year mandatory sentence for illegally carrying a concealed weapon. The second bill would put having a gun while committing a felony on a list of violent felonies that can lead to enhanced sentences. The third would increase mandatory jail time for violent criminals who have a gun. The last one would have juveniles face mandatory minimums if they illegally have a gun.

"As law enforcement officers, we just need the tools," said Fred Calhoun, head of the Delaware Fraternal Order of Police. "Our guys are out there doing the job. I represent 2,400 police officers across the state. They're out there doing it every day. This is another tool, another piece of the puzzle that helps us put these criminals in jail.

"I can support tougher penalties for criminals and acts of violence dealing with guns," said Tom Runyon, of Dover. "I cannot support and do not support more gun regulations on honest, law-abiding citizens."

"Guns are a very easy and effective way to hurt someone," Christopher Hall, also from Dover, said. "So I think to deter those kinds of crimes the penalties should be very stiff."

Wilmington feels the effect of violent crime more than the rest of the state. But State Sen. Bruce Ennis, D-Smyrna, says this will help lower Delaware, too.

"These laws are important statewide. There are incidents throughout the state although the greater number of them occur in Wilmington. So, they're important to Wilmington. But they're important to the state as well."

There are Democrats and Republicans both signed on as sponsors for parts of this package. Lawmakers will introduce all the bills when they go back into session next week.

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