A rally to support gun control legislation outside Legislative Hall was nearly drowned out by counter demonstrators.
Speakers advocating a package of gun control bills introduced April 10 were disrupted by about 200 protestors who booed and chanted in support of the Second Amendment and gun rights.
Megan O'Donnell, a survivor of the Las Vegas shooting that took 59 lives – the most in U.S. history – was among the speakers who would not be deterred from sharing their stories.
“I don't want to be here today, and I don't want to be listening to you, but if my voice can be for change, I'll share it every chance I get,” she said.
Chants of “guns are not the problem” switched to deafening boos and outraged chants of “vote them out” when elected officials took the podium.
Sen. Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, said the three bills are aimed at protecting lives, and court rulings have determined the bills do not infringe on the rights of law-abiding hunters, sportsmen and gun owners seeking to protect their families.
“For far too long, we’ve stood by and watched as across our country children have been murdered in their classrooms, and gun violence has terrorized our communities,” he said. “The time has come for lawmakers in Dover to show the courage that voters demand of us and pass these common-sense measures that are supported by a majority of our country, including most gun-owning households.”
Attorney General Kathleen Jennings said gun violence is a cancer that should be stopped. States with the lowest rates of gun violence have the strictest gun laws, she said, and those with the highest rates have lenient gun laws.
“We can make common-sense reforms,” Jennings said. “Gun control works.”
According to a press release issued by the Senate Democratic Caucus, Senate Bill 68 would ban the sale of about 60 specific assault-style weapons in Delaware, including AK-47s, AR15s and Uzi submachine guns. Also introduced were Senate Bill 70 that would outlaw the sale of high-capacity magazines, and Senate Bill 69 that would require prospective gun buyers to get a permit from Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security before legally buying a firearm. On the same day, House Bill 63, requiring safe storage of firearms when a child or a person prohibited to access a firearm is present, passed the House 22-19. The bill now awaits action in Senate committee.
Speaking to the crowd following the gun control rally, Delaware Gun Rights organizer Mitch Denham of Lincoln thanked the half-dozen police officers who provided security for the rally, and he encouraged gun rights supporters to continue their fight against gun control.
“We are law-abiding, and we don't want to be targeted as criminals,” he said.
Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, attended the rally but could not be reached for comment before the Cape Gazette’s deadline.