Reflecting on Delaware’s proposed gun laws

April 17, 2021

It is not often that I write about guns, but the two bills currently in the Delaware Legislature have caused me to reflect on the very silly ways people try to stop gun violence. For some reason, they believe that making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to legally purchase firearms is somehow going to prevent mass shootings or cut down on the gun deaths in our urban areas. It will not.

Now before you accuse me of being just another parrot for the NRA, let me tell you while I was a member for many years and even sold articles to their hunting magazine when we had an abundance of Canada geese in Delaware, I dropped out when they would not oppose a ban on Teflon bullets. 

I see three areas where guns are a serious problem. I don’t mean some guy who comes home and finds his wife in bed with another man and shoots the pair of them. Or the abused wife who finally ends her abuser’s life.

First, we have the deadliest gun violence. That is the mentally disturbed person who goes completely out of his mind and kills a large number of people. The Sandy Hook killing is a perfect example of this. The mother thought she could keep her son out of the mental hospital and at home, and for some reason she also took him to the gun range. He finally snapped, killed her and then went to Sandy Hook and killed innocent kids and their teachers. Since the mother bought the gun and she would have passed any background check, there would be no law that could have prevented that tragedy.

Almost, if not all, of the mass shootings have a connection to mental health issues. Many of the shooters have normal lives, go to work every day, but something is wrong in their minds. Then an incident triggers a response that is far beyond anything a normal person would do. If the government would spend as much time and money trying to figure out why some people act that way as it does trying to control guns, that might actually save lives.

The next group of people who resort to gun violence are the young folks who either travel in gangs, traffic in drugs or just look for an excuse to kill each other. Since most of these folks are not old enough to buy a gun, restrictive gun laws have no effect on them. They have no trouble acquiring guns illegally and no qualms about using them.

A perfect example is the young mother who was gunned down last week while driving her car. She was shot numerous times by mistake. It seems the shooter mistook her for another person she had been in an argument with.

This is a social problem. These young people have no respect for life. It will not be solved by vigils or thoughts and prayers. It will not be solved by making it harder for me to buy a gun.

Finally, we have criminals. Criminals have no problem getting any type and number of firearms they want. Fortunately, they seldom use them.

The biggest criminals today steal by computer. You don’t need a gun to embezzle a few million dollars from some unsuspecting person’s bank account. Most robberies that take place with a gun hit the local Wawa for a few hundred bucks and a couple cartons of cigarettes. The only place you see hardened criminals in gunfights with the law is on TV. The one exception is the drug business, where the occasional confrontation does occur.

The two bills the Delaware Legislature is considering would outlaw magazines that hold more than seven bullets, and require a lengthy and expensive process that a law-abiding citizen would have to go through before he or she would be able to purchase a handgun.

I agree, if you haven’t hit your target with seven rounds, you are either dead or the target is long gone. However, this bill would outlaw the possession of such magazines, so those who legally bought them would now be criminals, and that just ain’t right. I don’t think the police are going to go house to house looking for such magazines, but if they catch you with one, you would be arrested.

The required process to purchase a firearm right now includes a background check that would reveal any flaw in the person trying to buy a handgun. These new restrictions are just another expensive delay that will serve no purpose except to hinder the law-abiding citizen.

Both bills have passed the Senate and are now in the House. I fear they will both pass there as well. I hope some group, even the NRA, will take this to court.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age. Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast. He has been the regional editor for several publications and was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine. Eric is the author of three books: Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits. He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter