Supporters renew call for mental health-based gun law [video]

 (Chris Hope/for NewsWorks)

(Chris Hope/for NewsWorks)

The mother of a young woman killed in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting in 2012 visited Delaware to urge lawmakers to pass a bill to keep weapons away from people with mental health problems.

The mental health-linked gun bill was introduced in the General Assembly last year, but after the bill was easily voted through the state House, the measure was not approved in the Senate. Now, as state lawmakers prepare to start another year of work next week, supporters are trying to resurrect House Bill 88.

Among other things, the bill would require all mental health professionals to report dangerous people to law enforcement. It would also allow courts to order those deemed to be a dangerous person to hand over any firearms or ammunition they may possess. Judges could also direct law enforcement to search and seize firearms and ammunition from those prohibited from possessing guns.

“Put plainly, this bill will save lives and has addressed many of the concerns raised by gun owners,” said former state Senator Liane Sorenson, who now chairs the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence. “We need members in the Senate to take action when they return next week.”

To highlight the need for action on the measure, the coalition brought Sandy Phillips to Delaware. Phillips’ 24-year-old daughter Jessica was killed in a 2012 mass shooting in a movie theater in Colorado.

“While no one policy will prevent every tragedy, what I do know is the person that killed my daughter in Aurora had shown warning signs that he had become a danger to society and himself,” Phillips said. “House Bill 88 would go a long way in helping keep guns out of the hands of people that present a danger to themselves and others.”

The General Assembly reconvenes on Tuesday, Jan. 14.

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