Governor Markell Unveils Four Bills to Protect Public Safety

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Staff Report

Law enforcement pledged its support to four common-sense public safety measures Governor Jack Markell introduced today to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill and people under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Markell was joined by law enforcement officers from around the state, Attorney General Beau Biden, Wilmington Mayor Jim Baker and legislators including House Majority Whip Valerie Longhurst.

“These bills are about finding some common-sense answers to improve public safety and better protect our state’s bright future,” Markell said.

The bills would close the “gun-show loophole,” prohibit the possession of a firearm by individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol, improve reporting requirements to prevent mentally ill individuals from purchasing deadly weapons and give law enforcement a responsible method to dispose of seized firearms.

Attorney General Beau Biden said the measures are “responsible efforts” designed to provide greater protection for citizens, “to make us more safe, and to make more safe the brave men and women who serve us every day in law enforcement.”

The unveiling was held at State Police Troop 2, in the conference room named after Detective Robert Paris, who was shot to death in the line of duty. State Police Colonel Robert Coupe made clear that this legislation would help protect men and women who serve as State Troopers and as law enformcement officers arcross the state.

“This is about helping our Troopers – and any law enforcement officer across the state – do their job. It’s about helping those Troopers – or anyone coming home from any job in the state, even kids coming home from school – get home safely,” Coupe said.

The Governor was joined by local law enforcement  from around the state. Yesterday, he briefed the Delaware Police Chiefs Council on the proposals, and they responded with strong support.

“Their reaction was both swift and certain – they voted, right there and then – to lend their support to these common sense measures, which are designed to protect public safety, to improve their ability to protect the rights of responsible gun owners and to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous criminals, the mentally ill, and people in no state of mind to make a rational decision about the gun on their hip or in their hand,” Markell said.

The legislation is one part of a larger public safety agenda that Governor Markell unveiled during his state of the state. That effort includes working with entities across the state to improve school safety, tasking Secretary Lew Schiliro of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security who previously lead the FBI office in New York City to work with the Attorney General’s Office and county and city officials to coordinate law enforcement efforts for greater effectiveness, and forthcoming legislation on drunk driving.

“So much of what we spend our time focusing on is getting people back to work and making sure our kids have the strongest possible public schools – on improving our economy right now and ensuring its prosperity in the future,” Markell said. “But none of it means anything if our employers, their employees, our state’s kids and their families, our senior citizens, are not kept more safe.”