Del. Gun Control Debate - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

People Connected to High-Profile Mass Shootings Look to Influence Del. Gun Control Debate

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DOVER, Del.- As Delaware has debated stronger gun control laws, lawmakers have had visits from lots of people connected to high-profile gun violence incidents. Their goal is to influence the discussion in the First State.

This week parents of kids killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school came from Connecticut to Delaware.

Mark Barden's son Daniel was one of the children killed. Mark recognizes he visits Delaware as an outsider.

"Coming from a different place, we're carrying with us this message: "It happened to us, where we never would have it expected it to happen. It could happen here tomorrow," he said. "We're here to hopefully prevent it from happening in Delaware next."

Rep. Donald Blakey, R-Camden, voted no on the one gun control bill to come before the full House so far, which expanded background checks. He met with the parents while they were in Delaware.

He says while that obviously had an impact on him  - "I think my responsibility is to recognize the situation under which they've been brought in but, at the same time, do the background work, do the due diligence out in the community working with people who are in favor of weapons and not in favor of weapons."

Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, was in Delaware last month. Some opponents of more gun control have called the visits exploitative.

"I think they're using him," Theresa Garcia, executive director of the 9-12 Delaware Patriots, said at the time. "We don't need to bring the big guns in to explain our position. They can bring whoever they want in, but it doesn't make any difference to us."

Wednesday at a hearing at Legislative Hall Garcia called out gun control supporters for bringing in what she called "minor-celebrities."

Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, defended the visitors saying they were victims, who did not chose this.

Gov. Jack Markell explained why he thinks the visits are important when a survivor of the shootings at Virginia Tech was in Dover.

"When people in Delaware have an opportunity to hear - whether it's from Mark Kelly or from Colin - this could be anybody's son, friend, neighbor."

It will be up to lawmakers to decide if that argument is compelling enough to enact more stricter laws in Delaware.

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