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.

 

For Father’s Day: Get Dad a Tie, Not an Assault Rifle

SIG_SG_516_14.5″
According to authorities, Orlando shooter Omar Mateen used the assault-style rifle Sig Sauer MCX to kill at least 49 people. A lawyer for the Newtown, Connecticut, families whose children were also killed with an MCX called the weapon “the gold standard for mass murder.” A federal ban on such weapons was allowed to expire in 2004.

Note: We received this announcement this morning from our friends at Connecticut Against Gun Violence. We call on Delaware gun dealers to voluntarily join this act of dignity and respect for those who were killed last weekend in Orlando—and for all victims of gun violence across the nation—on this year’s Father’s Day.

CONNECTICUT GOVERNOR CALLS ON
GUN SELLERS TO AVOID SEMI-AUTOMATIC WEAPONS SALES ON FATHER’S DAY IN
RECOGNITION OF ORLANDO FAMILY MEMBERS

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called today for Connecticut gun sellers to voluntarily halt selling semi-automatic weapons this Father’s Day—Sunday, June 19—in recognition of the fathers and parents who lost children in the Orlando tragedy. The AR-15 and the Sig Sauer MCX are illegal in Connecticut, so the Governor is calling on state gun sellers to take a symbolic step of avoiding any semi-automatic weapons sales on Sunday.

DannelMalloy
Connecticut Governor Dannel Melloy (wikimedia)

In states in which assault weapon sales are legal, Melloy is calling on gun sellers to avoid selling those firearms—particularly the Sig Sauer MCX and the AR-15—out of respect.

Since enacting commonsense gun violence prevention legislation in 2013, crime in Connecticut is at a nearly 50-year low, and violent crime is dropping faster than in almost any other state in the nation. In the last three years, there have been less than 100 murders in the state—something that has not happened since the 1960s.

The gun law passed by Connecticut in the wake of Sandy Hook is one of the toughest in the nation. It requires all firearm transactions be reported to the state police, complete criminal background checks for purchasing firearms and ammunition, and registration of all banned assault weapons and large capacity magazines.

“I am calling on Connecticut gun sellers to avoid all semi-automatic weapons sales on Father’s Day for one reason. We should show respect, through a symbolic gesture, to those who lost loved ones in Orlando,” Governor Malloy said. “It’s one day—and one day only….

“These guns are weapons of mass destruction. They are specifically designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest period of time. Shootings with these weapons are an almost daily occurrence nationally, and they will continue unless we act both in Congress and at a state-level with smart gun laws. In the absence of action, at a minimum, individual gun sellers can choose to show respect for those who lost their lives in Orlando, and in particular, as we celebrate Father’s Day, children who have lost their fathers and fathers who have lost their children to gun violence. My heart goes out to the friends and family-members of the victims.”

Horror, devastation—and a resolve to make change

States United to Prevent Gun Violence
Statement on Pulse Night Club Mass Shooting

The Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence and its 31 affiliated state gun violence prevention organizations comprising States United to Prevent Gun Violence are saddened and horrified by today’s shooting at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, FL. Saddened and horrified, but not shocked. We are no longer surprised when someone motivated by hatred is able to easily obtain assault-style weapons and rounds upon rounds of ammunition, turning another place of joy and celebration into a site of devastation and mourning.

Reports indicate that this shooting — with fifty killed and at least fifty more injured — is the deadliest mass shooting in American history. The shooter was an American citizen and officials are investigating this as an act of terrorism. In truth, every mass shooting is an act of terrorism —  it incites fear and terror and aims to create chaos and panic.

In the coming days, we will learn more about the shooter, and more about the victims, survivors and heroes who braved danger to help others. We will mourn with the grieving families and friends as they lay their loved ones to rest. We will listen to politicians express platitudes while doing nothing to keep the weapons of war off our streets. So while we send our thoughts and prayers to the victims and survivors, we also pledge to honor them with a demand for action NOW for stronger gun laws and commonsense policies to keep our loved ones safe.

Arizonans for Gun Safety
Women Against Gun Violence
Colorado Ceasefire
Connecticut Against Gun Violence Ed Fund
Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Ed Fund 
Georgians for Gun Safety
Hawaii Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence
Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence
Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence
Iowans for Gun Safety 
Maine Gun Safety Coalition
Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence 
Stop Handgun Violence
Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence
Protect Minnesota
Grandparents Against Gun Violence (MO)
Coalition of Nebraskans Against Gun Violence
New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence
New Yorkers Against Gun Violence
North Carolinians Against Gun Violence Education Fund
Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence
Oklahoma Gun Sense
Ceasefire Oregon
Ceasefire Pennsylvania
Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence
The Safe Tennessee Project
Texas Gun Sense
Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah
Virginia Center for Public Safety
Washington CeaseFire
Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort Ed Fund
States United to Prevent Gun Violence 

Act Now as HB 325 Approaches Senate Vote

TELL THE DELAWARE SENATE: PROVIDE ENOUGH TIME FOR BACKGROUND CHECKS ON GUN PURCHASES

HB 325, which passed the Delaware House in April, will be voted on in the Senate before the end of the session this month. DeCAGV strongly supports this bill and you should too.

TELL YOUR STATE SENATOR THAT YOU SUPPORT HB 325.

Don’t know the name of your senator and how to make contact?
Click here for a handy lookup tool based on your zipcode.

DON’T KNOW THAT TO WRITE?

Here’s a Q+A about how HB 325 will close a dangerous loophole in our system.

 

What is the purpose of HB 325?

This bill closes a dangerous loophole in Delaware’s background check system that allows gun sales to proceed by default after just three business days—without a completed federal background check. HB 325 would allow up to 30 days for the completion of a background investigation.

Why is HB 325 needed?

From 2013–2015, 40 individuals who successfully purchased firearms in Delaware were later determined to be prohibited from possessing a gun. This is dangerous. In each case, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had to put its agents at risk to retrieve the weapons. And this hardly accounts for the risk to the public.

Why is this called the “Charleston Loophole?”

The three-day background check loophole has come to be known as the Charleston Loophole. Last summer nine black churchgoers were killed in Charleston, S.C., during a prayer service. The shooter—who would not have passed a back-ground check—was able to purchase the gun he used after three business days when the federal background check was still incomplete. Nationally, from 2010–2014, gun dealers completed 15,729 gun sales to ineligible people due to the expiration of the three-day period.

Isn’t this a Federal issue?

Despite the fact that the Federal system has been chronically underfunded—and, more recently, overwhelmed by a nationwide surge in gun sales—more than 90 percent of background checks are processed within minutes or hours. Other cases require extra attention precisely because the firearm purchaser has a complicated record of red flags. As reported in The Trace, default-proceed sales are eight times more likely to involve a prohibited purchaser than other background checks. And because Federal legislation to close this loophole is currently unlikely, states have begun to act.

Is HB 325 constitutional?

Since the Supreme Court’s 2008 opinion, DC v. Heller, most courts have held that a gun law violates the Second Amendment only if it does not serve an important or significant government interest, or if the law does not reasonably “fit” that interest. HB 325 easily passes this test. It serves a compelling government interest: preventing firearm possession by convicted felons, the dangerously mentally ill, and other people who cannot pass a background check. And the “fit” between HB 325 and this interest is clearly reasonable, given that it would allow a law-abiding, responsible person to obtain a gun as soon as the background check is completed—and, if the background check cannot be quickly completed, during the period of up to 30 days.