Gov. Jack Markell, Lt. Gov. Matt Denn and Attorney General Beau Biden unveiled proposals to ban the sale of automatic weapons and large-capacity magazines, increase background checks required for obtaining guns and require reporting of lost and stolen firearms and ban possession of guns near a school.
The state politicians unveiled five gun control bills on Monday, which was the one-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. In that tragedy, 26 people were killed in the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.
The proposals to address gun safety issues in the First State in the wake of the Connecticut tragedy drew harsh criticism from the National Rifle Association, yet they drew praise from the Delaware State Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union.
Markell, Denn and Biden were joined by Delaware Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security Lew Schiliro, members of the General Assembly, police officers and members of the faith-based community for the unveiling of the gun safety legislation at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington.
"The gun safety measures we are proposing will strengthen our ability to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them," Markell said. "No one wants guns in the hands of people with ill intent. We must not arm those who would harm.
"Instead, we must enact stronger laws to protect our communities," he said. "Reasonable gun safety laws, improvements to school safety and increased access to mental health treatment are three ways we can do better. This package of gun safety measures is directed at individuals who might impose violence with a gun."
In a prepared statement, the NRA described the proposals as an "anti-gun agenda" pushed by Markell since he first ran for governor in 2008.
"Not only is he rejecting the Supreme Court's repeated ruling that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms, but his proposals directly violate Article I Section 20 of the Delaware Constitution which says, 'A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use,'" the NRA statement said.
But Delaware State Education Association President Frederika Jenner praised the state recommendations.
"The legislative package unveiled today includes commonsense measures to limit access to certain weapons and to prevent guns from getting into the hands of people who shouldn't have them in the first place," Jenner said. "We are as concerned about guns in our neighborhoods as we are about guns in our schools."
Legislation on each of the proposals is scheduled to be introduced in the General Assembly by Jan. 24. That is the last legislative day before the General Assembly breaks for Joint Finance Committee hearings.
Page 2 of 2 - "Our proposals focus on two important goals: keeping guns away from dangerous people, and protecting victims from the weapons most likely to be used illegally," Denn said.
Biden said the proposals were a reasonable and sensible approach that would improve public safety and respect the Second Amendment.
"As a father, veteran and the state's top law enforcement officer, I know that military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips designed for battle have no place on our streets."