WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

A Tale of Two Cities: Washington and Dover - Del. Senate passes expanded gun background checks

Even a diluted, compromise expanded background check measure could not clear the United States Senate, albeit, with the 60-vote threshold.

In contrast, the Delaware State Senate has passed expanded background-check legislation by a 13--8 vote. In fact, the announcement of support from state Senator Ernie Lopez (R-Lewes) made it much more likely the measure would clear the state General Assembly and go to Governor Markell's desk. The State House has already okayed the legislation, in stark contrast to the U.S. House of Representatives, which most assuredly would have torpedoed anything to emerge from the U.S. Senate. (It's worth noting Lopez seems to be trying to strike a balance between the two sides of the gun issue. Lopez says he won't support the proposed ban on assault weapons).

What explains the differences between Dover and Washington?

Plenty. Like Illinois, Delaware has become a blue state (A fairly recent development) Upstate dominates. On many social issues (as opposed to some others), our current governor could be described as a progressive. 2nd Amendment absolutism (or absolutism of any kind) doesn't translate well with most upstate suburban middle-class voters, especially women. State legislative elections aren't won or lost, typically, on the basis of TV ads; it's still retail politicking, direct mail, and sometimes radio.

And most importantly, NO super-majorities required to pass ordinary legislation in Dover (Except two-thirds for Constitutional Amendments over two sessions, of course). We know about the U.S. Senate's arcane, 60-vote rule, which is precisely the reason the minority can thwart the will of the majority.

Posted at 2:40pm on April 18, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Mike from Delaware
Thu, Apr 18, 2013 3:45pm
Allan: I call it the ability to meet halfway or compromise. Having stronger background checks so that folks with "mental issues" who aren't already criminals, is a good middle-ground. It takes no one's guns away from the mentally stable or non-criminal legal American citizen.

I'm shocked that 2nd Amendment advocates [NRA, etc.] are so totally against that. One would think that they'd not want some "nut job" shooting up the town-square or local school anymore than anyone else [seems these school shootings haven't been committed by criminals, but nut jobs]. The NRA's fanatical refusal to consider stronger background checks almost implies that some of those folks might fit into that "nut job" category and are afraid they will lose their guns due to that.

But at least in Delaware, there seems to be a willingness to try to meet halfway as this bill seems to indicate in Dover vs. the nonsense that's going on in Washington.

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 4:07pm
Failure to pass the background illustrates the complete political gridlock in Washington. More than 90 percent of voters support background checks, but, somehow, the clowns in Congress won't act on it. It's a shame and pretty embarassing when you get down to it.

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 5:52pm
Problem is Delaware is a small state. Everybody is a short drive from another state, each with its own rules. Just as Delaware has big liquor superstores close by the Pennsylvania border, look for gun-shops just over the line. And on-line gun sellers are also a growing business. And there are still gun-shows. So, the gang in Dover can "point with pride", but it probably won't matter much.

As we saw this week, if somebody wants to kill people, there are more effective, more efficient, harder-to-trace ways to do it. Don't expect a requirement for background checks on pressure-cookers in Delaware or anywhere else.

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 10:16pm
Bill Smith is right, crime will not go down because of this law. In fact Chicago which completely banned guns, has had its gun violence remain at high levels because it like Delaware, has guns for sale right next door...

Which is why a national background check is so necessary. The Republicans have drawn a line in the sand, making it clearer than ever, that if we want to move forward into the 21st Century, instead of backwards into the 19th, we need to eliminate every single Republican out of office. Like Pearl Harbor did for the Japanese, they keep overstepping their bounds and have begun the process of their own destruction. They can still save the party by splitting it into two parties, the sane Republicans, and the insane Republicans... As soon as there is visible separation between the two parties, where voting for one does not mean you are putting the other also into power, the current Democrat's hold on sanity, will again be challenged by the thoughtful members of the Republican party. Right now, if you are a sane individual, you are compelled to give Democrats the nod because the Republican policies of Romney and Ryan and Bonner and McConnell, will ruin the USA>

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 8:10am
The reason for Chicago's gun violence is that law-abiding citizens have been disarmed and the gangs (those causing most of these deaths in the Windy City) are not usually concerned about breaking laws...no matter how many new laws are passed.

Rather than adding more laws they need to ENFORCE the current existing laws and prosecute those who break these laws.

"David Burnham, co-director of TRAC, states their analysis says that according to case-by-case U.S. Justice Department information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, there were 52 federal gun prosecutions in Illinois North (Chicago) in 2012, or 5.52 per million in population.

By this measure, compared with the 90 federal judicial districts in the U.S., the prosecution rate in Chicago was the lowest in the country.

Considering that there were 522 people murdered in Chicago in 2012, one would think that the documented lack of enforcement of existing gun laws by a President seeking more of them would be a national scandal."

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Apr 19, 2013 11:27am
I don't advocate banning guns, but explain to me how doing a better background check that includes mental-health issues that include background checks also at gun-shows so to make it more difficult for the "nut jobs", and the "Psycho's" out there, to get a gun will infringe on sane, legal, law-abiding Americans to get a gun??? THAT is the issue.

Granted it won't stop all gun violence, and yes, criminals will have to go to other criminals to get their guns, but I believe none of the school shooters were criminals PRIOR to their shooting-up the school [they had mental issues]. So if we can make the barrier higher and harder to scale, and say 3 of 100 Looney's rather than take a gun to school to settle whatever "voices" are speaking to them telling them to get even, etc., etc., instead they don't go at all or take a knife, box-cutter, or sling-shot to settle their score. Those are better scenarios than that same "looneytune" going to that school with a gun of any kind. THAT's the point. So unless you have a mental issue, why would this infringe on sane, legal, law-abiding Americans??

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 12:13pm
Reading the above, I don't see the mention of the Democrats who voted against the bill. Am I to assume that they are insane also, or just the Republicans? No bills are sent to Congress without other attachemnts. Since none of us have read the bill, all our comments are shots in the dark. It should have presented the background checks only, and nothing else for now. Surveys are based on questions, and they certainly can be slanted. 90% of the voters does not equal 90% of the population.

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 12:26pm
mike: The problem is they aren't prosecuting people who fail background checks now....48,000 felons/fugitives failed background checks in 2010 but only 44 were prosecuted. (Both this administration and the one before it have horrendous records when it comes to prosecutions) So, while these new laws make us feel safer, if not enforced what good are these laws?

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 1:18pm
The above argument seems to be: If it won't catch everybody, better to do nothing at all.
Why the opposition: The gun lobby, like some others, are big fans of the "slippery slope." If we let them do background checks, next they will want ________.

One "slippery slope" issue is fear of a gun registry data base. If the "gummit" knows who has guns, one night they will come and take them all away.

Related to that is the idea that gun owners are true patriots, unlike the people in "gummit," and they may someday have to overthrow the "gummit" like the Minute Men did.

The shooter in Newtown did not purchase guns. He used his mommy's guns (after he shot her).

Since the whole premise of the second amendment is a "well regulated militia," then gun ownership should be restricted to honorably discharged veterans of the armed forces, who are placed in the inactive reserve and subject to recall. Meanwhile, they have had fire arms training and are allowed to keep guns. I'm curious how many gun nuts are interested in having guns if the condition requires they might have to face somebody willing to shoot back (not just Bambi's mother).

PS: No open forum this weekend? Right-wing talk show hosts have been endorsing buying gold. Now the price of gold is dropping. How come that news is being censored, ignored and blacked out?

Also the prosecution has rested in the Gosnell murder trial. The right-wing media has been ignoring the trial the last couple of day, especially Fox, which has covered it less than anybody else.

The ACLU has now filed a second lawsuit against that homophobic florist in Seattle who refused to provide flowers for the wedding of two regular (gay) customers. She sold them flowers to live together but not for their wedding?

Meanwhile, a woman has died in Ireland after being denied an abortion. It's legal there but the hospital refused to do it saying "this is a Catholic country." That's in addition to all those girls and women forced into virtual slavery in church-run Magdalene Homes. And priests abusing boys.

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 1:36pm
"The above argument seems to be: If it won't catch everybody, better to do nothing at all."

44 prosecutions vs 48,000 felons and fugitives trying to buy guns.
Why have new laws if no one is bothering to enforce existing laws.

Mike from Delaware
Fri, Apr 19, 2013 1:51pm
EarlGrey: How many of those folks were sold weapons via legal gun-shops or gun-shows vs. how many tried and the background check said NO, and the store or gunshow seller didn't sell them a weapon. How many of those bought their weapons via an illegal source and later were caught with that gun? Can they be prosecuted for trying to buy a weapon via a legal gun-shop even though they are a felon? Wouldn't the gun shop owner and employee face charges as well?

All I'm saying is anything that makes it more difficult for mentally challenged folks to get a weapon is a good thing. You guys continue to only mention criminals, but as I said, most nutjobs were not criminals PRIOR to them shooting up a school, mall, college, church, town square, etc. Going after the criminal element is a different problem.

Tonyi: I didn't mention either GOP or DEMS. All I'm asking is how is a law that makes it harder for the nutjobs to get their hands on a gun infringing on sane, legal, law abiding Americans to get THEIR guns? Can't get any good replies to that question, not just here, but anywhere I've asked it. All pro-gun folks just ignore it.

I agree, we don't know what else was packed into the Fed bill. I also agree that stronger background check should be a stand-alone bill.

Sat, Apr 20, 2013 2:32am
Earl Grey... I had to read several times to make sure what you were saying was what you were saying...

The absolute crazy talking point you state repeatedly is "that 44 prosecutions vs. 48,000 felons and fugitives trying to buy guns."

I hope you will fill in what I'm missing, but I can't see where any law is broken...

I believe it is against the law for a felon to own a gun. But if he is refused a background check, he doesn't get the gun, and therefore has not committed the crime that comes from owning a gun...

So you are saying prosecutors did not prosecute 44,000 who did not commit a crime... If so, one must be concerned as to why 44 were prosecuted if they too didn't commit a crime? Perhaps they were in Texas and the prosecutor was planning on running on a Republican ticket for office; they do things like that down there in Republican land.

It is no different than if I'm driving down to Dover with a state policeman as my talking companion, and I look over at him and ask him... Can I speed? He says "No" and so I don't. Then at Dover, he arrests me because I asked?

This talking point is exactly why the NRA is a trash recycling service now, instead of an organization looking out for its members... It used to have a function. It now has taken to acting like nuts in the Tea Party and is trying to influence policy that a) Hurts its members, and b) Will eventually create an incident so outrageous and deadly where the 2nd Amendment gets repealed by two-thirds of the American States because of its abuse, all brought about by the shoddy practices of one dumb person with odd looking eye-ware and too much money at his disposal....

The NRA should return to helping sportsmen. Not assisting Wilmington's and Chicago's murderers and rapists.

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 8:14am
kavips: The issue is not failing the background check; the issue is lying on the form. It's pretty obvious what the "right answer" is on the forms you have to complete to buy a gun. So, people lie. And then nothing happens to them when they are caught in the lie. You have the right to remain silent but lying to the government is a crime.

On the other hand, proving someone knowingly lied can be difficult, so the government may decide not to prosecute.

It's more like, you're sipping along Route One and your cop friend asks how fast are you going. You say 55 but he leans over and sees you're doing 90.

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