Common-sense gun control laws? Not for Delaware

    When the gun debate started in Delaware this year a push to limit guns to the mentally ill was on the agenda of a lot of lawmakers.  The defeat of such a bill has Rob Tornoe scratching his head as to why.


    Here is Rob’s commentary

    During the Aurora massacre, a mentally-unbalanced individual entered a movie theater with a small arsenal of firearms during the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” and proceeded to kill 12 people, and injure 70 more. Of note about the tragic incident was the fact that James Holmes, the shooter, saw at least three mental health professionals at the University of Colorado before the shooting, and even threatened and intimidated a psychiatrist he had been seeing. But because of loose laws in Colorado (which have since been fixed), he was never put on a list and was able to purchase a small army’s worth of firearms. Despite a handful of Gov. Jack Markell’s modest gun control proposals getting struck down by pro-gun interests, one bill that seem sure to pass was legislation addressing the need for stricter rules governing the ability for mental health patients to gain access to guns, aimed at preventing an Aurora-style killing right here in the First State. The bill seemed certain to pass. After all, the legislation had overwhelmingly passed the House on a 40 to 1 vote, and the NRA was was neutral on the bill, almost unheard of in this post-Sandy Hook era of hyperbolic gun rhetoric. “We no longer consider the bill a significant threat to law-abiding gun owners,” NRA lobbyist Shannon Alford told the Senate. All good, right? Sorry, but when it comes to the Game of Gun Legislation, bills either die, or they die. Much to everyone’s surprise, the bill was voted down in the Senate by a 13-6 margin, with two spineless Senators not bothering to cast their vote at all. “I’m very disappointed. This was a commonsense piece of legislation,” said a surprised Beau Biden. “… I can’t explain what happened today in the state Senate.” So why was this bill, which received overwhelmingly bipartisan support in the House, killed unceremoniously in the dead of night in the Senate? Accounts differ. Cassanda Marshall over at Delaware Liberal places the lions share of the blame on First State Liberty, a gun advocacy group that was behind a robo-calling campaign that many Senators cited as their reason for voting down the bill.  According to the News Journal, some Senators express confusion at the testimony presented by Dr. Neil Kaye, a Hockessin psychiatrist, who seemed to mix up certain facts about the types of individuals the bill actually applied to. But who do I blame? Apathy. Ignorance. Only in America, where 32 individuals are killed every day by guns, can we leaders unable to muster even the loosest new legislation to combat the growing trends of gun violence. Despite all the hand-wringing from our so-called representatives, this bill was balanced and well thought out. It’s narrowly defined to mentally ill individuals, has due process included in the language and included a straight-forward pathway for those effected to have their gun rights reinstated. Ever watch the Academy Awards? One moment I look forward to every years is the In Memoriam section, where the Academy cycles through all the famous actors we’ve lost through the year. In that vein, here is an In Memoriam list of all the gun control legislation Delaware’s spineless crop of legislators, for one reason or another, killed during this legislative session. Cue the music… Banning the sale, manufacture, delivery and unlawful possession of large-capacity magazines… Banning the manufacture, sale, delivery and unlawful possession of military weapons… Banning possession of a firearm within 300 feet of a school… Restricting mentally ill individuals access to firearms… —– Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at, and follow him on Twitter @RobTornoe

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