Category Archives: SB 83

Governor Markell Signs Commonsense Gun Law

 

Will Protect Victims of Domestic Violence

 

Courtesy of Americans for Responsible Solutions
Courtesy of Americans for Responsible Solutions

October 2, 2015 – Dozens of advocates for domestic violence prevention and sensible gun regulation applauded today Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s signed a bipartisan bill that addresses gaps in Delaware law to help protect domestic violence victims from abusers with access to firearms.

“Today is a victory for common sense and a victory for safer communities,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), ARS partnered with the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence (DeCAGV) and the state’s Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCADV) to pass SB-83 with bipartisan majorities in both houses of the Delaware General Assembly.

“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,” said Giffords. “And with Governor Markell’s signature now affixed to this bipartisan proposal, Delaware will be a safer place to live.”

The bill’s sponsors, Sen. Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington) and Rep. Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear), participated in the signing ceremony. Attorney General Matt Denn also supported SB-83.

DeCAGV_sm_logoLiane Sorenson, chair of DeCAGV’s Educational Fund and former Republican state senator praised the legislation. “I’ve been working on protecting Delaware’s domestic violence survivors for 23 years, and I was on the Delaware Domestic Violence Coordinating Council during my career as a legislator. We are still fighting these battles today and this commonsense law will make a difference, and it will save lives. Today is yet another sign that Republicans and Democrats can come together around responsible solutions that help limit domestic abusers’ access to guns and protect vulnerable people and families,” said .

The bill, which goes into effect on January 1, 2017, and was co-sponsored by Democratic and Republican legislators, will protect victims of domestic violence and dating violence by helping prevent domestic abusers’ access to guns, without affecting the Second Amendment rights of law abiding people. The law will:

  1. Prevent individuals convicted of dating partner violence within the past five years from buying or owning guns. Under current Delaware law, when a dating abuser or a former cohabitant is convicted in a court of law beyond reasonable doubt of “misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence” he or she is permitted to purchase or possess a gun. This poses a serious danger to the victim and his or her family. This legislation will prohibit abusers who have been convicted for a misdemeanor crime of a domestic violence when the victim was a substantive dating partner or when the criminal offense happened within 3 years from when the relationship ended from owning or possessing guns for 5 years.

  1. Protect victims who have fled their homes from their abuser. Current Delaware law only prohibits gun possession by a person convicted of victimizing a cohabitant if they were living together at the time of the crime. This means that an abuser does not lose his or her gun eligibility if he or she is convicted for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence after the victim fled the home. This legislation would ensure convicted abusers are prohibited from possessing firearms for five years when the criminal offense happened within 3 years from when the victim fled the home.

  1. Help enforce existing law by requiring that people subject to a Protection From Abuse order, who have been instructed to surrender their firearms, identify to the court how they have done so. The bill would also help ensure that guns are surrendered pursuant to a PFA order by clarifying that the abuser must turn over these weapons immediately upon the request of a law enforcement officer or, if no request is made, within 24 hours at a staffed police station.

Congresswoman Giffords visited the Delaware State Capitol in May and called on lawmakers to pass SB 83 and help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. A survey of registered Delaware voters conducted on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions found that a broad majority of Delawareans – including gun owners – support the bill’s key elements. Click here to read a summary of the research’s findings.

Fifty percent of fatal and near-fatal domestic violence incidents in Delaware involve a gun.

Between 1996 and 2013, guns in Delaware were used in 40 homicides of intimate partners, and in 13 homicides of other people in domestic violence incidents (family members, children, and bystanders killed in these shootings). Guns were also used in 17 domestic violence-related suicides.

Nationally, women in the U.S. are 11 times likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other developed countries, and more than half of all murders of America’s women are committed with a gun. Abused women are also five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if that individual has access to a firearm.

Governor Markell’s signing of the bill into law adds Delaware to a long list of states that have enacted bipartisan legislation addressing the lethal links between gun violence and domestic abuse. As of July 2015, bills addressing the nexus of domestic abuse and gun violence have passed or been introduced in 23 state legislatures. In 2014 alone, large bipartisan majorities in six states – Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Washington – passed new laws to better protect victims of domestic violence.

 

 

Markell to sign SB-83 today at YWCA

On Friday, October 2, Delaware Governor Jack Markell will sign SB-83, a bill that extends protection from gun violence in dangerous domestic abuse situations. The bill passed the General Assembly in June after an extensive campaign by a coalition of domestic violence groups and advocates of sensible gun laws.

The Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence (DeCAGV) was instrumental in this campaign. We marshaled allies across the state and nation, including numerous local groups and national organizations such as States United to Prevent Gun Violence, Americans for Responsible Solutions, and the Center for American Progress.

DeCAGV does not take credit for this legislation. We acknowledge that voters across Delaware saw its merit and urged their legislators to support it. Our contribution to its success was in connecting advocates for women (the principal victims of domestic violence) with those who seek a sensible, practical approach to stemming the epidemic of gun injuries and deaths plaguing Delaware and the nation.

At a senate hearing on SB-83 in early June, more than 25 witnesses testified in favor of the common-sense bill. The law will

  • Prohibit gun possession by a person convicted of misdemeanor dating-partner violence within the past 3 years
  • Prohibit gun possession by any person convicted of a violent misdemeanor against a former cohabitant (who lived with the perpetrator) during the past 3 years
  • Ensure that domestic abusers ordered to surrender their guns to a police agency or to a federally licensed gun dealer. Subjects will also be required to identify to the court that they have surrendered their firearms
  • Prohibit gun purchases by an abuser while he or she is subject to an emergency Protection From Abuse orde
  • Prohibit gun purchases by an abuser while he or she is subject to an emergency Protection From Abuse order

DeCAGV thanks leaders in both the Delaware Senate and House for sponsoring and supporting this bill, which will become effective on January 1, 2017.  The primary sponsor in the senate was Sen, Margaret Rose Henry; in the House it was Rep. Valerie Longhurst.

The bill will be signed during a ceremony at 10:00 a.m. at the YWCA Home Life Management Center—which provides long-term shelter and services fro victims of domestic abuse.

 

 

SB 83 Passes Senate

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DELAWARE EXTENDS
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROTECTIONS

Senate Bill 83 has passed the Delaware State Senate yesterday on a bipartisan vote of 15 to 6.

The adopted bill — a substitute measure introduced by its prime sponsor, Senator Margaret Rose Henry — will extend the protections afforded under Delaware’s domestic violence laws to victims of dating partner violence and to victims who have fled their homes to escape an abuser.

It will also ensure that abusers surrender their guns when a Protection from Abuse order is in effect.

The Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence (DeCAGV) was instrumental in proposing and passing this important new legislation. Working with Americans for Responsible Solutions, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and the Center for American Progress, supporters of DeCAGV have added this legislative victory to their previous successes: Delaware’s universal background checks for gun purchases and its requirement to report lost or stolen firearms — both passed in 2013.

SB 83 has not yet been scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives, but Gov. Jack Markell has indicated that he will sign it when it reaches his desk.

Help us continue our campaign for common sense gun laws that protect families and communities with your financial support for DeCAGV. Click here to make a contribution.

Sorenson
DeCAGV Board Chair Liane Sorenson

“We worked hard to convince members of the Senate that the safety of domestic abuse victims — almost all of whom are women — came first,” said former Republican Senator Liane Sorenson of Yorklyn, chair of the DeCAGV Educational Fund board of directors. “We were not surprised that 15 of 21 senators voted with us. It’s good to see that domestic violence remains a bipartisan issue.”

We thank you, our thousands of supporters, for your postcards, calls, and emails to members of the General Assembly.

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Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence
safeguard our citizens and communities

Op-Ed: Reducing abusers’ access to guns will save women’s lives

READ: Liane Sorenson’s op-ed in today’s News Journal.

It’s called the Danger Assessment – and it’s one scary questionnaire. Developed by domestic violence experts at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, it asks 20 yes/no questions to determine the level of danger an abused woman has of being killed by her intimate partner.

Among the questions are:

Have you left him after living together during the past year?

Does he threaten to kill you?

Do you believe he is capable of killing you?

Does he own a gun?

The Danger Assessment has been in use for more than 25 years and there’s now an abbreviated version that helps police officers quickly determine whether a woman is in immediate danger.

The key question is, “Does he own a gun?” That’s because domestic abuse situations are five times more likely to be fatal if the abuser has access to a gun.

The FBI reports that nationally between 2003 and 2012, a third of all women who were murdered were killed by a male intimate partner. Guns are used in fatal intimate partner violence more than any other weapon. Between 2001 and 2012, 6,410 women in the United States were killed by an intimate partner using a gun – more than the total number of U.S. troops killed in action during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.

In Delaware, between 1996 and 2013, guns were used in 40 homicides of intimate partners, plus 13 homicides of other people in domestic-violence incidents (family members, children, and bystanders killed in these shootings). Guns were also used in 17 domestic violence-related suicides.

The bottom line: Reducing abusers’ access to guns will save women’s lives.

This is exactly what SB 83, which will have a hearing this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee, is intended to do. To close loopholes in existing protections for domestic abuse victims, it would:

 Prohibit gun possession or purchases by an abuser while he or she is subject to an emergency Protection From Abuse (PFA) order.

 Prohibit gun possession by a person convicted of misdemeanor dating-partner violence within the previous five years.

 Prohibit gun possession by a person convicted of a violent misdemeanor against a former cohabitant (person who lived with the perpetrator) during the previous five years.

 Ensure that domestic abusers surrender their guns by requiring them to inform the court that they have done so.

 Codify procedures for the surrender of weapons to law enforcement, including safe storage and eventual return when the person is no longer prohibited.

A 2014 report from the Delaware Domestic Violence Fatal Incident Review Team noted that almost half of intimate-partner homicides in Delaware occurred when the victim attempted to leave or had ended the relationship with the abuser. That’s why it makes sense to remove guns from these volatile situations immediately upon issuance of an ex parte order.

A domestic abuse victim who seeks a PFA order may be granted a temporary “ex parte” order to cover the period before a formal hearing – but only after a judge carefully evaluates the complainant’s sworn testimony and finds “immediate and present danger.” Generally ex parte orders last no more than 10 days, at which point a full hearing occurs. SB 83 would prohibit the purchase of a gun by someone during the period when he or she is subject to an ex parte PFA order.

Under current law, when PFA orders are issued, a court may order the abuser to surrender temporarily her/his firearms. SB 83 extends that protection to the critical period between the issuance of an ex parte order and the formal hearing of the complaint.

The ex parte process is meant to prevent a violent crime and does not usurp anyone’s Second Amendment rights. Nor does the surrender of guns violate the due-process rights of the abuser. Courts have repeatedly upheld the procedures for domestic violence protective orders, including ex parte orders, against due process challenges.

The bill also states that the abuser must turn over these weapons immediately upon the request of a law enforcement officer or, if no request is made, within 24 hours at a staffed police station. It establishes procedures to ensure these orders are followed by requiring the abuser to report to the court that they have surrendered any firearms and ammunition.

Keeping guns away from people who are guilty of domestic abuse is makes common sense. It won’t affect our Second Amendment rights, but it will help make our families and communities safer.

When a woman’s Danger Assessment is in the red zone – when she is at the greatest risk of lethal violence – she needs SB 83’s protections to help keep guns away from her abuser. We should close these loopholes to prevent gun-related death or injury at the most vulnerable times in an abused woman’s life.

A former counselor at CHILD Inc. and director of women’s affairs at the University of Delaware, Liane Sorenson served for 20 years as a Republican state legislator. She is a founder of the Delaware Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and currently chairs the board of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Educational Fund.

 

Save Women’s Lives: Learn More About SB 83

Hearing Scheduled June 10
For Bill to Protect Women

FACT: A woman is five times more likely to be killed in a domestic violence attack if there is a gun in the home.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a June 10 hearing for SB 83 — important legislation to save the lives of women in domestic abuse crises.

Get more facts about this important issue and how SB 83’s commonsense provisions will reduce gun violence in Delaware. Click here to download a two-page fact sheet.

SB83 Fact Sheet.pdf

Or merely click on the following two pages to read the facts.

SB 83 Fact Sheet_Page_1

SB 83 Fact Sheet_Page_2

 

 

 

Strong Support for SB 83

POLL FINDS BROAD PUBLIC SUPPORT IN     DELAWARE FOR SB 83’s KEY PROVISIONS

—INCLUDING AMONG TWO-THIRDS OF GUN OWNERS—
The Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence strongly supports SB 83, which will have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, June 3.
THE DELAWARE PUBLIC THINKS SO TOO.

As SB 83 was introduced, Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired Navy combat veteran and astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, announced new research showing broad support among likely 2016 voters in Delaware for the bill’s key components.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • 70% support preventing individuals who have been convicted of domestic abuse against a dating partner from owning a gun, with 44% strongly supporting it.

  • 74% support preventing individuals who have been convicted of violent or threatening misdemeanors from owning a gun, including 47% who strongly support it.

  • 70% support prohibiting individuals who have a temporary domestic abuse restraining order from owning or possessing a gun, with 43% strongly support.

  • 77% of Delaware voters support requiring individuals who have been convicted of domestic abuse to turn in any guns they own to law enforcement, including 55% who strongly support it.

The research also found that nearly two-thirds of gun owners in Delaware support each of the bill’s main provisions.

A summary of this new research can be found here.

Giffords: Gun Violence a Women’s Issue

 

SB 83 WILL STRENGTHEN DELAWARE’S DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROTECTIONS

Gabby_ARS_website
Courtesy Americans for Responsible Solutions

“Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women. That makes gun violence a women’s issue—for mothers, for families, for me and you. Women can lead the way. Together, we can change our laws.”
—Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords to members of the Delaware Senate

May 7, 2015 – At a press conference today with former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the Delaware State Capitol, Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington South, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Delaware City, and leaders in Delaware’s domestic violence prevention community announced new bipartisan legislation that will enact commonsense changes to Delaware laws to protect domestic violence victims and help reduce abusers’ access to firearms.

Women in domestic abuse situations are five times more likely to be murdered if their abuser has access to a gun. The legislation, Senate Bill 83, which is being co-sponsored by Democratic and Republican legislators, would protect victims of domestic violence and dating violence by helping prevent domestic abusers’ access to guns, without affecting the Second Amendment rights of law abiding people. The bill would:

  1. Prevent individuals convicted of dating partner violence within the past five years from buying or owning guns. Current Delaware law prohibits people convicted of “misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence” within the last five years from possessing firearms, but this term does not include domestic abuse in a dating relationship. 12 other states already prohibit gun possession for convicted abusers of dating partners.

  2. Ensure people convicted of a violent misdemeanor against a former cohabitant (person who lived with the perpetrator during the past five years) can’t legally buy or own guns. Current Delaware law only prohibits gun possession by a person convicted of victimizing a cohabitant if they lived together at the time of the crime. This means that an abuser can still access guns if he or she is convicted of a crime that occurred after (or because) the victim moved out.

  3. Ensure people subject to an emergency Protection From Abuse order can’t buy guns. Nineteen other states already prohibit gun purchases by at least some people who are subject to ex parte domestic violence protective orders, which is when the risk of violence is often greatest.

  4. Help enforce existing law by requiring that people subject to a Protection From Abuse order, who have been instructed to surrender their firearms, identify to the court how they have done so. The bill would also help ensure that guns are surrendered pursuant to a PFA order by clarifying that the abuser must turn over these weapons immediately upon the request of a law enforcement officer or, if no request is made, within 24 hours at a staffed police station.

Between 1996 and 2013, guns in Delaware were used in 40 homicides of intimate partners, and in 13 homicides of other people in domestic violence incidents (family members, children, and bystanders killed in these shootings).  Guns were also used in 17 domestic violence-related suicides. Fifty percent of fatal and near-fatal domestic violence incidents in Delaware involve a gun.

Nationally, women in the U.S. are 11 times likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other developed countries, and more than half of all murders of America’s women are committed with a gun.

“WOMEN CAN LEAD THE WAY”

“Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women. That makes gun violence a women’s issue – for mothers, for families, for me and you,” said Congresswoman Giffords, a gun owner and strong supporter of the Second Amendment and responsible gun ownership. “Women can lead the way. Together, we can change our laws.”

“The goal of this legislation is to remove weapons from the mix when there is domestic violence occurring and the victim has sought the protection of the courts,” Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn said.

“Victims of domestic violence deserve protection from their abusers,” said Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington South, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.“Among other things, this bill makes sure victims of dating violence are protected in the same way victims in more defined relationships already are – by prohibiting their abusers from possessing firearms. “Domestic violence is a scourge on our state and we must do all we can to ensure people who have already exhibited violent behavior can’t access to guns.”

“I find it appalling that there have been 40 gun-related homicides involving intimate partners in Delaware during the past 17 years. Some of these are situations where if we had some protections in place to prevent the abuser from having access to a gun, the victim might still be alive today,” said House Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Delaware City. “That is why we are here introducing this bill. We know that domestic abuse situations are five times more likely to be fatal if the abuser has access to a gun. The answer is simple: Preventing these individuals from having access to guns will lead to fewer homicides and save lives.”

“I’ve been involved in the issue of domestic violence for 23 years and I was on the Delaware Domestic Violence Coordinating Council the whole time I was in the legislature. We are still fighting these battles today and this legislation will make a difference,” said Liane Sorenson, Director, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence and former Republican State Senator.

DeCAGV Supports New Protections for Domestic Violence Victims

leghallAction on gun violence moves to Legislative Hall this month with the introduction of SB 83, a bill to strengthen protections for victims of domestic abuse.


The Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence strongly supports SB 83, which will:
  • Prohibit gun possession by a person convicted of misdemeanor dating partner violence within the past 5 years;
  • Prohibit gun possession by a person convicted of a violent misdemeanor against a former cohabitant (person who lived with the perpetrator during the past 5 years);
  • Prohibit gun purchases by an abuser while he or she is subject to an emergency Protection From Abuse order;
  • Ensure that domestic abusers ordered to surrender their guns do so by requiring them to identify to the court how they have done so, and clarifying the procedure for surrender.
Gabby_ARS_website
Gabrielle Giffords of Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS photo)

SB 83 was introduced this week by Senator Margaret Rose Henry of Wilmington. It has attracted national attention through the support of Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), which supports commonsense legislation prevent gun violence. Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011, co-founded ARS with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly. Giffords is scheduled to speak this afternoon to the Delaware Senate and will visit with members of both the majority and minority caucuses in the House.

Here in Delaware and around our country, domestic violence and access to guns can be a lethal mix.

If there is access to a gun in a domestic abuse situation, it is five times more likely that a woman will die.

Delaware law already prohibits persons subject to a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order from owning, possessing, or purchasing firearms. SB 83 extends the firearm prohibition to the period covered by an emergency PFA—often the most dangerous time for the person seeking protection from the court.

Women in American are 11 times more likely to be killed by a gun than women in other developed countries.

For the first time in Delaware, SB 83 will include people who are or were in dating relationships or lived together, ensuring that people who are subject to a protective order can’t have easy access to a gun.

It clarifies the procedures under which firearms are to be surrendered to law enforcement officers or turned in at a staffed police station. It also requires certification to the court that this transfer has occurred.


TAKE ACTION

Contact your senator and representative in support of this bill.
Click here to go to our Take Action Page.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

SB83 Fact Sheet.pdf

Senate Bill 83 (Full Text)