In the aftermath of Las Vegas

Thoughts from Dan Maas, new executive director of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Educational Fund:

As the nation mourns the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families and loved ones – our prayers are with you.

Out of respect to the memory of those lost, we must act to end the cycle of violence in this country. With populations burdened with social and economic hardship, it is our mission to start from the beginning and work our way up — by reinforcing core values, promoting skill development and creating access to opportunities that empower people to rise above.

We honor those who have lost their lives to gun violence with the actions we take in our own communities and our own neighborhoods,  with meaningful engagement and support that will nurture the growth of those neighborhoods into true communities and instill hope where it cannot be found.

This opportunity will not always be here. We act now.

Support HB 222: Help families protect loved ones in crisis

Every eight days, someone in Delaware dies of a self-inflicted gunshot.

A new bill in the Delaware Legislature, HB 222 sponsored by Rep. David Bentz, will give families a chance to save the life of a loved one in crisis — by temporarily taking guns out of the equation.

Contact your representative today – and tell them you support this life-saving law.

HB 222, creating a specific legal process for Lethal Violence Protection Orders (LVPO) – similar in concept to domestic violence orders of protection – that will allow family members or law enforcement to go before a judge when a person shows signs of being a danger to themselves or others. Based on evidence presented to the court, a judge can issue a Lethal Violence Protection Order, temporarily prohibiting the person in crisis from possessing or purchasing firearms.

LVPOs are NOT permanent. Respondents may petition to have them lifted after the crisis has passed, and they automatically expire after a year unless a renewal hearing is requested.

Learn more about LVPO legislation here.

Click here to send an email directly to your legislator and tell them that Delaware needs HB 222.

Please act now. This important vote could be taken soon. On behalf of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence, thank you for your continued help and action in supporting laws that will reduce gun violence in our state.

Join us for Dec. 13 town hall with Sen. Bryan Townsend and Reps. Baumbach, Kowalko and Osienski

Citizen activists, members of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence and four members of the Delaware General Assembly will gather on Dec. 13 for a town hall meeting that will recap the common-sense gun violence legislation that passed in Delaware in 2015-16, and forecast what opportunities and challenge are likely to arise in the years ahead.

“With the outcome of the presidential election, gun rights activists have started pushing for a unprecedented wave of pro-gun legislation, including legalizing silencers, allowing gun owners who have a concealed carry permit in one state to conceal carry in any other state, and eliminating Gun Free Zones,” said Erik Raser-Schramm, executive director of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence. “These policies will not make our communities safer. Several good, common-sense pieces of legislation that will make our communities safer have become law in Delaware over the past several years. The question is not just about how to keep that momentum going – it’s about how we can resist a movement that would push us backwards.”

Dennis Greenhouse, chair of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Legislative Fund, and Liane Sorenson, chair of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Educational Fund, will offer reflections on the past two years and talk about how Delaware became a national leader in passing gun violence prevention legislation.

In the second half of the meeting, Sen. Bryan Townsend, Rep. Paul Baumbach, Rep. John Kowalko and Rep. Ed Osienski will appear in a panel discussion and Q&A with the audience focused on the 2017 legislative season.

The Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Town Hall Meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark at 420 Willa Road in Newark. The meeting is free to the public. RSVPs are appreciated, either on the organization’s Facebook page (facebook.com/decagv) or by email to info@decagv.org.

See your lawmakers’ grades on DeCAGV’s 2016 Delaware Legislative Scorecard

The Delaware Legislative Scorecard for the 148th General Assembly (2016) grades lawmakers on their voting records and level of support for three key pieces of commonsense gun legislation this year:

HB 217: Mandates that law enforcement enter ballistic data relating to violent crime into a national database.

According to Americans for Responsible Solutions: “This legislation strengthen Delaware’s tracing laws to make it easier to prosecute criminal justice by:

  • Requiring law enforcement agencies that recover crime guns to enter all related information into the National Crime Information Center System and the the ATF’s e-Trace system;
  • Requiring law enforcement agencies that recover crime guns to quickly test-fire each weapon and submit their results to the NIBIN to determine whether the firearm is associated or related to a crime; and,
  • Requiring law enforcement agencies that recover shell casings at a crime scene to submit all related ballistics information to the NIBIN.”

HB 325: This bill closes a loophole to our gun background check laws. The current loophole allows for guns to be given to a potential purchaser if the background check is delayed for 3 days or more. In some cases a gun is given to a person who should not be in possession of a firearm. 

According to Gov. Jack Markell’s office: “The three-day limit has become known as the “Charleston Loophole” after last year’s mass shooting in which nine people were murdered in a Charleston, S.C. church. The suspected gunman, Dylann Roof, purchased the firearm used in the killings through the delayed transaction loophole after a background check took longer than three days. It was later determined that the sale should have been denied.

The effort to enact House Bill 325 was led by Rep. Ed Osienski, D-Newark, Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, and Sen. Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, with the support of many Delawareans and gun safety organizations such as the Delaware Coalition against Gun Violence.”

SB 83: Among other provisions, this Act amends § 1448(a)(6), Title 11 to provide that any person who is prohibited from purchasing, owning, possessing, or controlling a deadly weapon because the person is subject to a Family Court protection from abuse order is so prohibited immediately upon the entry of the protection from abuse order from purchasing or otherwise obtaining, and within 24 hours of personal service of the order, from owning, possessing, or controlling any deadly weapon.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords: “Today is a victory for common sense and a victory for safer communities. In the face of calls from Delaware’s domestic violence survivors and public safety officials, Republicans and Democrats came together to pass a law that helps keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and protect vulnerable people and their families. And with Governor Markell’s signature now affixed to this bipartisan proposal, Delaware will be a safer place to live.”

See how your representatives stood on these important initiatives on the full report card here.

Erik Raser-Schramm appointed executive director

Wilmington, DE – The boards of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence (DeCAGV) are pleased to announce Erik Raser-Schramm has joined the coalition as its new executive director.

Raser-Schramm is managing partner of The Twelve Seven Group, a consulting firm specializing in issue advocacy and grassroots organization. He has worked as a political strategist in Delaware for more than 10 years, including as chief of staff for the House Majority Caucus in the Delaware House of Representatives, as campaign manager for Jack Markell’s 2006 campaign for state treasurer, and as chair of the New Castle County Democratic Committee. He serves on the board of the Kind to Kids Foundation, and has previously sat on the board of the Equality Forum and on the Governor’s Commission on Community and Volunteer Service.

“Erik’s varied nonprofit and political positions make him uniquely qualified to grow a grassroots organization, build a coalition with other organizations, work with members of the legislature to pass sensible gun laws, and advance public knowledge and opinion on the issue of reducing gun violence,” said Liane Sorenson, chair of the DeCAGV Educational Fund Board of Directors. “The boards of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence and the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Educational Fund both look forward to working with Erik to address the issue of gun violence in Delaware.”

Matt Sullivan has also joined the staff as communications director. Sullivan brings nearly two decades of communications experience, graduating from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and working for 14 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter and editor, and more recently as a communications consultant with a variety of nonprofit and political clients. He has worked to create and grow events as diverse as TEDxWilmington, the Delaware Burger Battle and the Delaware Economic Summit.

George Higgins will remain on the staff of DeCAGV as executive director emeritus.

Armor of Light — What Price Conscience?

Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence and Pacem in Terris

Great Issues & Solutions 2016
Tuesday, July 19, 7 pm
Westminster Presbyterian Church
1502 W. 13th Street, Wilmington, DE

Armor-of-Light-Poster-High-Res

THE ARMOR OF LIGHT follows an Evangelical minister and the mother of a teenage shooting victim who ask, is it possible to be both pro­-gun and pro­-life?

In what RogerEbert.com calls “one of the year’s most powerful documentaries” and The Christian Science Monitor describes as a “gripping portrait of courage,” director Abigail E. Disney tracks an Evangelical minister trying to find the moral strength to preach about the growing toll of gun violence in America. In THE ARMOR OF LIGHT Reverend Rob Schenck breaks with orthodoxy by questioning whether being pro-gun is consistent with being pro-life. Rev. Schenck is shocked and perplexed by the reactions of his long-time friends and colleagues who warn him away from this complex, politically explosive issue. Along the way, he meets Lucy McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, an unarmed teenager who was murdered in Florida. ARMOR follows these unlikely allies through their trials of conscience, heartbreak and rejection, as they bravely attempt to make others consider America’s gun culture through a moral lens.

ALL people deserve the right to live in peace.

Free and open to the public.  All events are in the Meeting Room adjacent to Rodney Chapel at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1502 W. 13th Street, Wilmington, DE. Free parking is available at Westminster Presbyterian Church parking lot at 13th & N. Rodney Sts. This series is sponsored by Pacem in Terris. This film is co-sponsored by DE Coalition Against Gun Violence. For more information: Pacem in Terris, or call 302-656-2721.

Huge Victory on Background Checks in Delaware!

Governor Markell Signs HB 325

Governor Jack Markell signs HB 325.
Governor Jack Markell signs HB 325, closing the “Charleston Loophole” in Delaware.

Dear Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence,

Thanks to our supporters and allies like you, we achieved a huge victory against the gun lobby! Yesterday, we joined Governor Markell and prime sponsors Rep. Ed Osienski, Rep. Val Longhurst, and Sen. Bryan Townsend at the signing ceremony for HB 325, which closes the Charleston Loophole by extending the 3-day default proceed on background checks to 25-days. This life saving measure will give more time for proper background checks to be performed on gun sales across our state!

We were proud to stand with the Governor yesterday as he signed this bill into law. This victory is hugely important not only to our state, but to the entire nation as we all continue to see inaction on gun violence in the U.S. Congress. This is a huge moment. Can we count on you to help keep the momentum going? There is still much to do, and we must continue to increase our resources to keep making progress.

Your gift to Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence will go a long way to help us to continue to achieve legislative victories and tell the gun lobby that Delaware wants none of their culture of fear. Please give what you can today.

Sincerely,

George Higgins

Executive Director

General Assembly Approves HB 325

DeCAGV_sm_logoThe following press advisory was released by the Delaware House Democratic Caucus this evening. The Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence thanks all of its supporters and friends who worked tirelessly to pass HB 325—another step in making our state a leader in commonsense gun safety legislation.

Bill Will Close Background Check Loophole

Current law allows prohibited persons to ‘lawfully’ purchase firearm without completed criminal check.

DOVER – The Delaware House gave final approval Tuesday to legislation from Rep. Ed Osienski and Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst that would close a serious federal loophole that annually allows thousands of prohibited persons to purchase firearms without passing a background check.

House Bill 325 cleared a final vote in the chamber after returning to the House with a Senate amendment. No House Republicans voted in favor of the legislation. It now heads to the governor for his signature.

Current federal regulations allow a Federal Firearm Licensed dealer (FFL) to proceed with a firearm transaction if a requested background check has not been processed by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) within three business days. This loophole has allowed firearm transactions that otherwise would be denied to proceed, resulting in potentially dangerous individuals purchasing guns from lawful sellers on a technicality. According to the FBI, from 2010-14, gun dealers completed 15,729 gun sales to ineligible people due to the delayed transaction provision.

Last year, nine people were murdered in a mass shooting at a Charleston, S.C. church. The suspected gunman, Dylann Roof, purchased the firearm used in the killings through the delayed transaction loophole after a background check took longer than three days. It was later determined that the sale should have been denied due to a drug conviction.

Under HB 325, a person purchasing a firearm would need to pass a background check before a transaction could be completed. This would not impact the vast majority of gun transactions in Delaware, as 92 percent of background checks are completed in a matter of minutes, or at most, hours. This would eliminate the “delayed transactions” (also known as “default proceeds”) of guns being turned over because a background check takes longer than three business days.

As amended, HB 325 allows 25 days for a background check to be completed before a firearm could be transferred.

“For the average, law-abiding citizen, this bill would have no impact on their ability to purchase a gun. If you walk into a store to buy a gun and pass a background check, then you would be able to leave with your gun, just the same as you can today,” said Rep. Osienski, D-Newark. “This is not a hypothetical situation. It already has happened, and in at least one instance, it was a horrific tragedy.”

“If we truly believe, as most Americans do, that any person who seeks to lawfully acquire a firearm must pass a background check before doing so, then this is a common-sense solution,” said Rep. Longhurst, D-Bear. “In addition to the issue of potentially dangerous people obtaining a firearm, we have to use ATF resources to retrieve guns from people who shouldn’t have had them in the first place.”

“Delawareans have made it clear that they want us to do what Washington won’t: pass meaningful gun-safety laws. House Bill 325 is common-sense gun-safety legislation that will protect Delawareans by making sure more gun sales only occur once a background check has been completed,” said Sen. Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, lead Senate sponsor of HB 325. “For the small percent of checks that can’t be completed immediately, HB 325 gives law enforcement officials more time to make sure firearms do not end up in the hands of people who are prohibited from having them.”

According to NICS, in Delaware from 2013-15, 40 individuals successfully purchased firearms and were later determined to be prohibited from possessing a gun. In each case, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had to deploy officers to retrieve the weapons.

In most of these cases, background checks were denied only a few days after the three-day period passed. However, in some cases, a prohibited person has been able to possess a firearm for weeks before the background check catches up. In one 2013 case in Delaware, a fugitive from justice successfully purchased a firearm through this loophole. That background check did not reveal the person’s status as a fugitive until 43 days after the transaction was initiated.

At least 18 states have addressed this delayed transaction loophole in a manner that reduces the number of prohibited people who are able to purchase firearms.