Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del.,who signed three gun safety bills into law nearly two years ago to protect the public says there is a possibility that the state could use stronger laws in the wake of the Connecticut shooting that left 20 small children and 8 adults dead, including the shooter.
The man authorities have identified in the shooting, Adam Lanza, gained access to his mother, Nancy Lanza’s gun collection which were all purchased legally. Nancy Lanza was also shot and killed by Adam, who allegedly suffered from a personality disorder.
” I, like so many others around the country, have spent the last few days thinking about the issues that this awful incident raises. In homes, in businesses and in government, we are having conversations about what this means and what we need to do,” said Gov. Markell.
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden echoed a similar message.
“As a father, prosecutor, and veteran, it is clear to me that military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips which were designed for battle have no place in our communities. Congress should act to reinstate the assault weapons ban and consider legislation to ban high-capacity ammunition clips.”
In 2011, Gov. Markell and other legislators took the lead to make Delawareans safer when SB 25, SS1 for SB 29 and HB 48 were signed.
Here’s a break down of each individual law.
• SS1 for SB29, makes it a crime to possess a firearm while in a public place under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• HB 48, authorizes state agencies to report information about mentally ill individuals to the federal NICS database. In the past, Delaware was one of ten states that provided no mental health information to NICS.
• SB 25, establishes a community firearm recovery/gun buy-back program. This helps community groups and the police to work together to gets illegal guns off the streets.
“What is clear is that we have a culture of violence in this country, coupled with ready access to guns, and we continue as a society to fail adolescents struggling with mental illness. That reality is deeply concerning to me, as I know it is to others. I see three areas of discussion taking place,” said Markell.
The three areas Gov. Markell says need attention involve mental health, school safety as well as a gun safety.
“Over and over again we see this pattern of these young men who have some kind of mental health issues and then as a result they have access to these weapons and they should not have access to these weapons, they take the weapons and they shatter the lives, in this case of more than two dozen families, an unbelievable tragedy,” added Markell.
According to Gov. Markell, the stigma associated with mental illness needs to be removed so that people can recognize it for the disease it is.
“Access to treatment is critical, and my administration is preparing plans to expand that access, especially for children and teens,” expreesed Markell who also talked about school safety.
In Delaware, every public school has a comprehensive safety plan thanks to a new statewide protocol developed this year. “Schools are now in the process, working with the Department of Safety and Homeland Security and with local emergency responders, of creating those plans. To date, 30 schools have completed these plans and we have funded creation of school safety plans for the next 50. We need to make sure that we complete the effort to have comprehensive school safety plans completed for all schools,” Markell said.
Although state lawmakers have worked on legislation to keep guns out of the hands of those who suffer from mental illnesses, Markel admits he also strongly supports a ban on assault weapons.
“As we move forward, I think and hope there are measures that reasonable gun owners can agree with — and in fact have started to voice support for in the last few days,” concluded Markell.