Delaware AG pushes tougher penalties for illegal gun possession

 (Shana O'Malley/for NewsWorks)

(Shana O'Malley/for NewsWorks)

Delaware’s Attorney-General is pushing for tougher gun penalties.

Legislation aimed at increasing penalties for those who illegally possess guns was introduced by Attorney General Matt Denn and Delaware lawmakers on Monday.

The legislation would require mandatory minimum sentencing for offenders who repeatedly get caught with fire arms while they are prohibited from owning them.

The second part of the bill would establish a mandatory minimum sentence for adults who get caught illegally owning a firearm and have previously been convicted as a juvenile (ages 16 or 17) for committing a violent crime.

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The legislation is aimed specifically at young, violent and repetitive offenders.

“The individuals targeted in this bill are not young adults who are new to the criminal justice system or just made a single mistake,” said Attorney General Matt Denn. “These are people who have violent histories and now, on top of that, illegally holding fire arms.”

In 2012, Denn said 69 percent of shooting suspects in Delaware were age 25 or younger and 68 percent of the suspects had prior violent records.

“We’ve got to do something that makes them feel that there’s a consequence,” said Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington East. “You’re going to be locked up and taken off the streets if you continue to behave this way.”

A similar bill was introduced among the General Assembly last year. House Bill 73 made it through the House 40-1, but stalled in the Senate.

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