Delaware Public Media

Lawmakers expected to consider assault weapons ban again this year

Mar 24, 2019

State lawmakers are expected to consider legislation banning assault weapons in Delaware again this year.


State Sen. Bryan Townsend (D-Newark) said he plans to introduce legislation similar to last year’s bill that sought to ban assault weapons in the First State.

He points to last week’s mass shooting in New Zealand - allegedly by a self-proclaimed racist - as a reason these types of weapons shouldn’t be publicly available. Townsend also praised that country’s prime minister for announcing this week a plan to ban assault weapons there.

New Zealand’s prime minister announced that plan in the wake of the attack that killed 50 people.

“Most countries in the world when something like that happens it’s an absolute shock because the society’s not used to it," he said. "And in fact New Zealand politicians have moved very quickly to talk about solutions. At least solutions in the form of the best prevention you can get, most reasonable laws on the books. In America, you know sadly it’s almost like that’s just another Friday.”

Townsend’s push to ban assault weapons is controversial and opposed by gun rights advocates.

He said in the U.S., some politicians aren’t willing to debate the subject and won’t even allow data on gun violence to be collected.

“We are so warped in ways that I think the founders whose words are what we herald would shake their heads in shame at our inability to use the democratic process to fix public policy issues,” he said.

Townsend’s legislation failed to make it out of committee last year. And two Democrats joined Republicans in defeating a vote to suspend rules and bring it to the floor when Senate President Pro Tem David McBride added it to the agenda.

But he may have better luck this year. Senate President David McBride (D-Hawk's Nest) has decided bills involving firearms will go through the executive committee this year. McBride chairs that committee and he’s expected to support the bill.