Tighter gun control proposed for Delaware

By Amy Cherry 1:25pm, January 14, 2013 - Updated 4:48pm, January 14, 2013
Gov. Markell, Lt. Gov. Denn, and Attorney General Beau Biden detail five proposed gun safety measures.
Governor Markell and Attorney General Biden take the wraps off five proposed gun safety regulations meant to make Delawareans safer.

WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.

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Using the one month anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy, Governor Markell and Attorney General Beau Biden are seeking an all-out ban on assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons.

"These are weapons of mass destruction that are meant for battle," says Biden.

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Other measures include banning the sale of large capacity magazines.

"Every one of these mass shootings has used a large capacity magazine. It is the essential piece of equipment for a criminal, who wants to shoot a lot of people," says Denn.

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If the proposed measure becomes law, those who already own large capacity magazines would be permitted to keep them, but would be banned from possessing them in public.

Denn calls the issue of gun control one that's "intractable" in other states and in D.C. and it won't stay that way in Delaware.

"We will not bury our heads in the sand pretend that gun violence has nothing to do with guns," Denn says.

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The proposed measures also seek to prohibit guns within 1,000 feet of a school. Those who own guns and live within a school zone would be exempt, so long as the gun stays on their property.

The remaining measures would require lost or stolen guns to be reported within 48 hours, and background checks for private gun sales.

"A system that ignores four out of every ten gun sales is a system that is broken, and we need to fix it," says Markell.

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Of these five measures, the biggest battle will, no doubt, be the ban on assault rifles.

"...which will be a fight. This will not a be a Democrats versus Republicans issue. I stand here before you saying it does not infringe upon the Second Amendment," AG Biden says.

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And it looks like that battle has already begun. The National Rifle Association has issued a statement saying Governor Markell isn't as interested in protecting children as he is in protecting the anti-gun agenda. The group says the law abiding Delawareans who responsibly exercise their right to own a gun are being demonized.

The Delaware State Sportsmen's Association also expressing deep disappointment over what they're calling Markell's "anti-gun measures."

Calling it "political theater," the group says none of the proposed measures will make anyone safer or effectively address the criminal gang violence plaguing the City of Wilmington.

House Republican leaders are also expressing concern. House Minority Leader Rep. Dan Short says he's surprised by the confrontational way in which Markell's measures were presented.

"Just take the comments from our Attorney General, who in his comments, five times,

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that there was going to be a fight. I don't see a need to have a fight over these issues; I see a need for us to have a discussion," says Short.

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The Seaford Republican says he's open to the proposal for background checks on private gun sales and says there's merit to reporting lost or stolen guns. But the more controversial measures need detailing.

"I think this may have done nothing but polarize Beau and really make him wonder what in fact the mission of the Administration is," Short says.

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