Delaware Public Media

Senate gun control bills get public airing in committee hearing

May 8, 2019

Delawareans weighed in on controversial gun control measures during a Senate committee Wednesday.


State Sens. Bryan Townsend (D-Newark), Dave Sokola (D-Newark) and Laura Sturgeon (Brandywine West) are sponsoring bills to ban assault style weapons, high capacity magazines and require permits to buy guns.

The hearing opened with State Sen. Gerald Hocker (R-Ocean View) grilling the sponsors. Then 26 of 75 people signed up had time to speak during the two hour public comment period.

Many gun rights supporters who attended are against the legislation. They say the bills are unconstitutional because they infringe on their rights to bear arms. Felton resident Jay Hammond compared the situation to America’s founding fathers standing up to the King of England. He calls Democrats a party drunk on power.

“You have made this fight for the very survival of our right to indeed self-govern," he said. "I urge you to change your tack immediately. You must vote no to avoid historical peril.”

Trauma surgeon Mark Cipolle supports the entire package. He said over the past five years doctors have treated about 1,300 victims with gun injuries, with 336 victims dying of gun violence during that time period.

“Easily the hardest part of my job is telling the mother of a child, the very embodiment of the future of the family who was completely normal at breakfast, is now dead from a firearm,” he said.

Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings said she believes the package of gun control bills will help reduce gun violence. She argues they’ll limit straw purchases and reduce the chances of a mass shooting in the First State.

Members of Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety and the Giffords Law Center also made statements supporting the bills.