Markell glides over guns in State of the State

I come to bury Markell on guns, not to praise him.

During Thursday’s State of the State Address, Governor Jack Markell touched on many of the policy points he would like to emphasize in his second term, including increased teacher pay and standards, better preparation for storms and the rising sea level, access to care for those with mental illness and putting more cops on the streets.

But possibly fearing a vocal backlash during his feel good address, Markell chose to speed through probably the most contentious aspect of all his policy initiatives – his package of new gun control proposals.


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“Earlier this week, I joined Lieutenant Governor Denn and Attorney General Biden to propose new legislation to help get guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” Markell said in his State of the State speech. “I ask you to join Representative Val Longhurst and Senator Margaret Rose Henry in finishing the job and pass reasonable gun safety legislation that respects Second Amendment rights and makes our streets safer.”


That’s it. That’s all the time he spent discussing gun control during his hour-long speech. But that didn’t stop state Republicans from issuing a blistering press release titled “Hostile, Polarizing” nearly the instant Markell stopped speaking.


“On Monday, Governor Markell made it clear that he intends to manipulate the levers of one party government control to railroad through his personal agenda,” Delaware Republican Party chairman John Sigler said in the statement. “…and he hadn’t even taken the oath of office for a second term yet!”


Sigh. So what’s the nefarious personal agenda Sigler is referring to – reducing gun violence? Attempting to stop the nearly unfettered flow of weapons onto Delaware’s streets? Trying to protect the lives of our children?


Sigler continued (just before making a plea for donations), “It is times like this, when serious non-partisan issues are on the table, when we must come together and address the whole host of issues that have arose following the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.”


Serious non-partisan issues – like universal background checks, which are supported by 74 percent of NRA members? Or maybe closing the gun show loophole, which 87 percent of Americans favor.


Sigler is far from the only conservative in the state to have this mindset. Even my buddy, WDEL talk show host Rick Jensen, thinks some Democrats are dancing on the graves of dead children, happy they finally have an excuse to let their gun snatching, big government desires run wild.


“They need to be taught that the murders of children are not ‘good,’ even when it helps them market their political beliefs,” Jensen wrote in a recent column, referring to former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s comment that the tragedy in Sandy Hook has galvanized Americans to finally stand up to the strong-arm tactics of the NRA.


I think Lt. Governor Matt Denn had the best comment about the Administration’s new gun control proposals: “We will not bury our heads in the sand and pretend that gun violence has nothing to do with guns.”


Call it what you will – a “personal agenda”, political opportunism, one-party government run amok! I’ll call it what I think it is – the right thing to do.—–

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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