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Delaware lawmakers, gun control advocates react to mass shootings

Sarah Mueller
Delaware Public Media
Moms Demand Action Delaware face counter protesters at an April gun control rally at Legislative Hall in Dover

Delaware gun control advocates and state lawmakers are reacting to two mass shootings this weekend in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

State Sen. Laura Sturgeon (D-Brandywine West) said she’s determined to take action next year on gun control measures instead of waiting until after the 2020 election.

Delaware Senate leadership shelved legislation banning assault-style weapons, high capacity magazines and creating a permit process for buying firearms earlier this year. They said the bills lacked sufficient support for a floor vote. The bills also faced firece opposition from gun rights supporters and others.

Sturgeon sponsored the permit to purchase bill. She points to recent mass shootings at a festival in California and in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio as motivation for moving quickly. As of Monday afternoon, officials had confirmed 31 deaths in El Paso and Dayton.

She said she hopes to convince her colleagues that it's proactive and will prevent similar deaths in Delaware.

“Nothing’s going to change if they haven’t changed their minds," Sturgeon said. "So, let’s see. I’m going to give them some time and hopefully in the next few days, I can speak with them and get a sense of where they are.”

Sarah Stowens, with Moms Demand Action Delaware, is also urging the state's lawmakers and Delaware's Congressional lawmakers pass gun safety legislation.

Credit Sarah Stowens
Moms Demand Action D.C. rally

Stowens had joined gun control activists from across the country for a conference in D.C. when she heard about Saturday’s El Paso mass shooting. After participating in a protest in front of the White House and Capitol Hill Saturday night, she woke Sunday to the news out of Ohio.

Stowens grew emotional as she spoke about a mother in El Paso who died protecting her infant. Jordan and Andre Anchondo have been reported to have been killed protecting their two-month-old infant, who suffered broken fingers.

“We have to do something," she said. "It’s just not ok anymore. It wasn’t ok 25 years ago and it’s not ok today. We have to do something.”

Stowens is calling on the U.S. Senate to pass legislation designed to close background check loopholes, including sales at gun shows. The U.S. House passed it in February.

Sens. Tom Carper (D) and Chris Coons (D) are calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring the Senate back to pass the House bill.

"There are common sense gun safety measures that we could consider right now to protect our communities," Carper said in a statement. "And in states across the country, there is good work being done to advance common sense, bipartisan gun safety measures."

President Donald Trump in a speech Monday called for legislation creating a national red flag law.

Gov. John Carney (D) signed Delaware’s red flag law named after the late Beau Biden in April 2018. It makes it easier to remove guns from people considered dangerous to themselves or others.

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