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Gun reform roundtable discusses solutions, makes connections, emphasizes permit-to-purchase policy

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Rachel Sawicki
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Delaware Public Media
A roundtable discussion about gun reform at Delaware Technical Community College in Wilmington brought officials and advocates together, including Attorney General Kathy Jennings, members of the General Assembly and Congressional Delegation, medical professionals, community leaders, and law enforcement.

Delaware celebrated passing a package of gun safety laws in June, but a round table discussion Tuesday identified some pieces still missing.

A permit-to-purchase bill is one of the biggest holes left to fill, says Sen. Tizzy Lockman, prime sponsor of SB3. The bill flew through the Senate in 2021, but stalled in the House, where it expired in the House Appropriations Committee this year.

At Tuesday’s round table, Lockman emphasized this bill would not create a public registry, but a temporary record for law enforcement to find where guns are going astray.

“My goal is to keep the bill as strong as possible so it will have the best outcomes in our communities," Lockman said. "So we are just working together as colleagues in the legislature to figure out what the hang ups are and what the opportunities are to have a strong permit to purchase policy in Delaware.”

Wilmington Group Violence Intervention Program’s John Cook says wherever there is an influx of violence, there is always a root cause, whether it’s a broken home, poverty, or a mental illness.

“Those are results of missing pieces of poverty, fragmented families or abuse, that we're seeing spiral into America, and then we're closing our eyes and seeing that but where is it coming from? Maybe you just got to dig a little deeper. We know that sometimes it can be like a neurological thing, but if we dig deeper then it could just be a home structural thing. And if we don't close the gap, then America will continue to see violence happen.”

Cook argues legislation - like Sen. Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman’s ‘permit to purchase’ bill - is also important - possibly closing the door “from the top.”

Homicides are down by 30 to 40% in states that have passed similar legislation, and suicides by even more.

Lockman predicts legislation like hers will resurface next session and hopes the connections made at the roundtable will help to get it passed.

Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence President Traci Murphy has high hopes that connections made at the roundtable with Attorney General Kathy Jennings, members of the General Assembly, medical professionals, community leaders, and law enforcement can move gun reform forward.

“I think the COVID crisis really exacerbated this," Murphy said. "We were at our own desks doing our own work, but really, there's a whole community of folks working together for solutions.”

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.