Wilm. City Council introduces gun control ordinance

By Tom Lehman 12:36am, March 8, 2013 - Updated 3:20pm, March 8, 2013
Wilmington City Council members Mike Brown and Hanifa Shabazz discuss the gun control introduced at Thursday night's meeting.
Wilmington City Council can't supercede the state in enacting gun laws, but members are sending a message to the General Assembly: pass tougher gun restrictions.

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Councilwoman Hanifa Shabazz says the ordinance she introduced at last night's would amend the city's code to ban possession of firearms within 1,000 feet of a school and requires background checks for private gun sales and the reporting of lost and stolen firearms--all measures currently being proposed by Gov. Markell.

However, she says the ordinance sends a message to state lawmakers.

"I think it also demonstrates to the state legislature that the City of Wilmington's legislators are geared up and ready to support gun violence legislation," Shabazz says.

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Councilman Mike Brown, who heads the Public Safety committee, says the similarity between the ordinance and Markell's package of proposed gun control legislation is no coincidence.

"We mimicked it right off the state because the supercedes whatever we do," Brown says.

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However, the ordinance does have a major difference with Markell's proposed legislation: gun owners would be required to register their firearm with the city's police department.

The ordinance would also ban the sale, manufacture, delivery and unlawful possession of large-capacity magazines and military weapons.

Shabazz says the proposed law will be heard by the Public Safety committee, where she says it may be fine-tuned and altered before being presented to council for a vote.

The legislation also has language that says the ordinance can be severed if "any phrase, clause, sentence, or provision" is ruled to be in conflict with the Delaware or U.S. Constitution.

Shabazz says city's inability to pass the law and supercede the state shows the General Assembly how supportive council is of Markell's proposed gun laws.

"It does really show the state legislators that we are very eager and in desperate need for these laws to go into effect yesterday more than tomorrow," she says.

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Brown says the ordinance shows members of the General Assembly that the council wants them to pass laws that aggressively target gun crime during this legislative session.

"Is it a show of support? Yes, it's a show of support, but it's a show of frustration too and that we want to do something, we want to do something to try and make sure that the citizens know that we're doing our part and working as hard as anybody else," Brown says.

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You can read the whole ordinance on the city's website.

Council also passed two resolutions urging state lawmakers and Delaware's Congressional delegation to support bail reform and gun control measures at the federal level respectively.

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