Gun bills move forward: ‘Delaware has a chance to protect lives’

A bill intended to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill in Delaware is moving forward.

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted to release two gun bills, including one authorizing state agencies to report information on mentally ill individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms to a national background check database.

Under a law passed in 2007 following the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, states are supposed to provide such information to the federal database, but Delaware and about 10 other states are not doing so.

The fathers of two students shot at Virginia Tech met with Gov. Jack Markell on Wednesday before testifying for the bill.

Peter Read, whose daughter Mary Read was killed in the shooting, and Andy Goddard, whose son Colin Goddard still has three bullets in him from the shooting but survived, joined the Governor in his Dover office.

Read brought photos of his daughter Mary, who was 19 years old when she died, a freshman at VA Tech.

“She was the teenage daughter every parent wants to have,” Read said. “Her smile lives on forever.  We can’t change the past, but we can enlarge the future. Gun violence is equal opportunity. As a society, we have a shared obligation to make our whole society safer.”

Andy Goddard’s son, Colin, a survivor of the VA Tech massacre, has helped launch documentaries that make clear how easy it can be to buy guns at gun shows without undergoing a background check for criminal history. Andy Goddard remembered the days spent next to his son’s bed, covered in surgical tubes and scars, as his wounds healed.

“I thought to myself at that moment – we had lived in many undeveloped countries – Virginia Tech was the safest place.  In a French class, on the East coast on a Monday morning – who would have thought?” said Andy Goddard.  “It’s not a question of ‘how do we get rid of guns?’  It’s question of ‘how do we live with guns safely, without infringing on anyone’s rights?  The issue is keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.’”

Another bill released by the committee establishes a framework for disposing of guns stored by law enforcement agencies.

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