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Future of Delaware gun control legislation could depend on 2020 election

Sarah Mueller
Delaware Public Media
Gun control legislation heard in Senate Executive Committee. The billsdid not advance to a floor vote this year.

Gun advocates rejoiced in beating back gun control measures offered by some state lawmakers this year.

But Gov. John Carney (D) said he hopes state lawmakers try again in January.

Second Amendment supporters rallied at Legislative Hall a month ago to make sure state lawmakers didn’t pass last minute gun control bills.

Gun control advocates were stunned when state Senate leadership shelved legislation banning assault-style weapons, restricting high capacity magazines and creating a permit system to buy firearms.

Senate President Pro Tem David McBride (D-Hawk's Nest) promised a floor vote on the legislation, but he later changed his mind, saying support was almost “non-existent.”

Carney said he’s encouraging House and Senate leadership to pursue gun control bills. He’s also calling for legislation to ban so-called “ghost guns,” which can be hard to track.

“They have issues that are separate, with respect to their, the various tensions in their caucus and members who are up for re-election," he said. "And that’s something they have to consider, but we ought to continue to try to make progress.”

Senate Majority Whip Bryan Townsend (D-Newark) is the sponsor of the assault-style weapons ban. He said lawmakers could try again next year if more senators support the bills.

Otherwise, he said next year’s election could change the political landscape.

“We just need to continue to be present and committed," he said. "And then if it doesn’t happen before 2020, then yes, we take a look at the election results, we see what they mean and we go from there.”

Townsend, the sponsor of the assault-style weapons ban, points to Sunday’s mass shooting in California as a reason to continue pushing gun control measures. He said he hopes it doesn’t take a similar tragedy here for progress to be made.

McBride and Majority Leader Nicole Poore (D-New Castle) are two of the five senate Democrats up for re-election. The sixth, Harris McDowell (D-Wilmington North), is retiring. Five senate Republicans, including Cathy Cloutier (R-Heatherbrooke) and Anthony Delcollo (R-Elsmere) are also up for re-election.

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