UPDATE: Hundreds join March for Our Lives in Lewes

Lewes council supports proposed gun control measures
March 30, 2018

About 500 people gathered in Lewes to support the national March for our Lives and to remember the 17 students and teachers who lost their lives in the Parkland, Fla., shooting.

Marchers on the sidewalk – most carrying signs – almost lined the length of Savannah Road from Shields Elementary School to Second Street. Organizer Elizabeth Grove said the committee expected about 250 participants. “Now it's almost 500. It's awesome,” she said.

“We can't allow one more,” Grove said as the crowd assembled in the St. Peter's Episcopal Church courtyard at the end of the march. “Our schools are unsafe, and teachers and students are dying. We must make this a top priority in our government.”

Pamela Malsch, a retired teacher who was representing Womens March – Sussex County, said as a teacher in Denver, Colo., following the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999, teachers were told not to discuss the tragedy with their students because it might upset them.

“Well, this time, kids are talking, and they are saying it's enough,” she said. “And we need to have a conversation with our legislators without the lobbyists' interference. Ultimately our votes will make the difference,” Malsch said. “Thank you for caring for our children and making a commitment to them.”

Hannah Faircloth, a student at Towson University, said it's high school students who will act and make changes.

She said they are the generation who has grown up with active-shooter drills and feel their lives are threatened in school. “They are the ones being taught to use their chemistry books as armor,” Faircloth said. “There is more fear than ever before. I felt terrified after the Sandy Hook shooting 2012, and I am still terrified.”

“Students know their lives are in danger. It's our job to listen to them,” Faircloth said.

Jake Hoffpauir, a junior at Sussex Technical High School, said students should not have to go to school afraid. Now, he said, students' voices are finally being heard. “We have a place and and an opinion,” he said.

He said it's important to remember and honor the 14 students killed at Stoneman Douglas High School, but people should also not forget about the three staff members who sacrificed themselves by putting their students first.

Lewes council supports gun control legislation

By Nick Roth

Lewes Mayor and City Council entered into the gun control debate March 19 when officials passed a resolution supporting recent efforts to limit gun ownership.

The resolution supports Gov. John Carney’s position to ban assault-style rifles, limit access to guns for mentally ill people, and a prohibit bump stocks. Council voted 4-0 on the resolution, but Councilman Rob Morgan abstained.

Though he supports gun control measures and planned to participate in the March for Our Lives March 24, he said, it is not council’s place to weigh in on the issue.

“The city has no authority over gun control measures,” he said. “In fact, there is a state statute telling municipalities they are not permitted to make any laws governing gun control.”

He said the gun control issue is a state and national matter.

“I have personal views on other matters like immigration, but I think my colleagues would agree that we are not the right forum to address issues of national import where we’re not specifically impacted.”

Lewes is home to Shields Elementary School and the Sussex Consortium. Voters passed a referendum earlier this month that will fund the construction of a new middle school in the city too.

Councilwoman Bonnie Osler disagreed with Morgan’s perspective.

“The fact that we have no authority is a function of state law,” she said. “If we did have authority, then we would be here talking about something substantive.”

She said city council is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of Lewes citizens.

“To say it’s a nationwide problem and we shouldn’t do anything about it suggests that if it’s everyone’s problems, it’s nobody’s problem,” she said. “We have a school in this jurisdiction. We have drug problems in this jurisdiction. We [had] a march, which shows it is a concern for our citizens.”

Mayor Ted Becker said the resolution simply supports Carney’s position.

“It is something the governor has taken a very strong stance on,” he said. “I think the intent of this resolution is to really support and encourage action by the state legislature.”