Legislative Wrap-Up »

June 12, 2018

Assault weapons bill fails in committee
A bill that would have banned the sale, possession, purchase or receipt of assault weapons in Delaware failed in committee June 6.
The Senate Judiciary and Community Affairs Committee failed by one vote to release Senate Bill 163 from committee. Proponents of the bill say they are disappointed by the vote, but they remain committed to legislation that would prevent and reduce gun deaths.

"In March, students from across Delaware stood in the Senate Chamber and told us that they expected us to take action on gun safety, including more than 100 school shootings since Sandy Hook," wrote Senators Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington, and Robert Marshall, D-Wilmington in a statement. "We respect that some are vocally opposed to this legislation, but it's also true that a majority of the country supports banning the sale of assault weapons."

Sen. Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley, said he voted against the bill in committee because it clearly violates article 1, section 20 of the Delaware Constitution. "Unlike many on the other side of the aisle, I consider the Constitution the first hurdle any piece of legislation must get over, and this bill clearly fails that test," he wrote in a statement. "There are firearms listed in this legislation that are used for the defense of home, for hunting and for recreation. All of those uses are constitutionally guaranteed." If the legislation went into effect and grandfathered in current gun owners, Lavelle said there was also no way for those gun owners to prove they previously owned firearms.

Bump stock bill awaits House vote
A bill that would make owning bump stock attachments on guns illegal awaits a vote in the House. House Bill 300 passed the Senate June 5 by a 19-2 vote after senators agreed on an amendment that would make the first offense for owning a bump stock a class B misdemeanor. Under the bill, possession or ownership of a bump stock, which accelerates firing on a gun, is illegal. Subsequent offenses, or those involving crimes, would increase penalties to felonies. The bill now awaits a vote in the House.

Bill enhancing penalties passes House
A bill that enhances penalties for those convicted of sexual offenses against children passed the House unanimously June 5. House Bill 259 updates Jessica's law, enacted in 2006 to address penalties for crimes against children under 14. Under the latest bill, penalties are enhanced if a child is younger than 7.

"We need to protect our most vulnerable populations, and that includes protecting young children from people who may seek to harm and take advantage of them," said Rep. Andria Bennett, D-Dover, the bill sponsor, who wrote it in response to the abduction and sexual assault of a 4-year-old Pike Creek child last year.