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Lawmakers learn more about guns, gun issues before returning to work

Sophia Schmidt
Delaware Public Media

Gun violence and gun policy were the focus of a day-long forum in Wilmington Thursday. It ended with a discussion of assault-style weapons and magazines.


State Senator Stephanie Hansen organized the Delaware Gun Violence Forum to drill into definitions and Delaware-specific facts and statistics before the General Assembly reconvenes Tuesday. 

During the panel discussion on assault-style weapons and magazines, Johns Hopkins University’s Daniel Webster said data shows that bans on large-capacity magazines impact certain types of gun violence. 

“What was most clear from our study was that bans of large-capacity magazines were associated with a fairly sizable lower rate of both the incidence of these fatal mass shootings — four or more killed—- as well as the population rate, number of individuals killed.”

Jeff Hague from the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, who also sat on the panel, doubts these conclusions. “You can make figures say whatever you want,” he said. 

Hague thinks restrictions on large-capacity magazines and assault-style rifles are misguided. “The focus should be on the person, not the object.”

State Senator Stephanie Hansen says this type of discussion was one of the goals of the Delaware Gun Violence Forum. 

“Issues related to guns and gun legislation have become so divisive that there was an inability  to even have a calm and rational discussion,” she said. “Today was really about let’s bring the sides together and have a calm and rational discussion — let’s see if we can have a calm and rational discussion on some of these very divisive issues … that worked today.” 

Legislation that would ban certain assault-style weapons and restrict high-capacity magazines in Delaware did not reach the Senate floor for a vote before the legislature recessed last July. 

Gun rights advocates celebrated. But Gov. John Carney (D) said he hoped state lawmakers would try again to pass the legislation when session resumes. 

State Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride (D-Hawk's Nest) said last year he planned to help the bills reach the senate floor, then reversed course and declined to release them from the Senate Executive Committee. He attended the gun violence forum Thursday. 

“As a legislator, it’s been very helpful to me all day,” he said. “They’ve covered a lot of important topics— some new information. So it’s very helpful in setting policy as it relates to guns in Delaware.”

State legislators reconvene Tuesday. 


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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