Delaware joins the gun control conversation

Stan Honda / AFP - Getty Images
Stan Honda / AFP - Getty Images

While the Senate has taken its time hashing out gun control, some states have been proactive. New York, Connecticut, and Colorado have beefed up their gun laws in the months following Newtown, and now Delaware may join their ranks.

On March 28, the Delaware House of Representatives passed a bill mandating background checks for all sales and transfers of firearms, including private transactions. The bill, originally introduced by Governor Jack Markell as a response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, is supported by 88% of Delaware voters and now moves to the state Senate for a vote.

A few notable amendments keep Delaware’s bill from being as sweeping as those from Colorado and Connecticut. During the amendment process, additions were made to ban any type of gun registry system and to exempt gun owners with concealed carry permits from the background check requirements. Both tenets of the bill are NRA-approved.

But background check legislation, while popular in the state, is not the only initiative being explored by the state legislature. For those who say that criminals don’t abide by background check procedures, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden has backed a Republican-proposed plan to punish repeat offenders.

Those convicted of violent felonies will face stricter penalties for being caught with illegal firearms.

Biden, who said he believes that the legislation will pass, told The Cycle hosts on Friday that this aspect of gun control is a law enforcement issue, while also being of the same caliber of “common sense” as background check legislation.

Despite criticisms that the U.S., with 5% of the world population and 25% of the world’s incarcerated, has a jail problem, Biden says that putting dangerous criminals behind bars is the best strategy.

“My job as a law enforcer is to put those people in jail who have broken the law,” Biden explained, “There is a push right now for everyone from the Kato Institute to progressive outlets who make the argument that we should let people out of jail. I’m not convinced that’s the right strategy.”

Other gun control initiatives proposed by Markell, in tandem with Biden and Lt. Governor Matt Denn, such as limiting high capacity magazines, have failed to garner widespread support in the months following Newtown. However, last Monday, Delaware introduced these stiffer penalties for what Biden calls “persons prohibited in the state.”