Wilmington City Council Expresses Support for State and Federal Gun Safety Efforts

Posted on  03/07/2013 8:21 pm

Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory today commended his Council colleagues for a united effort in urging passage of proposed State and Federal laws that he says will improve public safety by reducing crime and violence perpetrated by individuals with guns. The Council President said the various proposals being debated by the State and Federal governments will improve public safety in Wilmington and around the nation.

“Under City Charter rules, the City is unable to enact its own gun safety measures,” said the Council President. “But we do have the power and the voice as a legislative body to support efforts underway to improve gun safety and keep criminals off our streets. These proposals can reduce crime and violence not only in Wilmington, but around the country. We must stay united as a Council, as a City, and as citizens of the greatest country on earth to make sure these proposals are enacted to stop future tragedies.”

The City Council, in an effort coordinated by Public Safety Committee Chair Michael A. Brown, Sr., took actions tonight to make its position clear about supporting restrictions on the sale of, and access to guns and ammunition, harsher penalties for persons convicted of gun-related felonies, and increased responsibilities for those who own firearms among other gun-related measures. 

In summary, here are the actions taken by Council tonight:

  • An Ordinance was introduced for 1st and 2nd reading by 4th District Council Member Hanifa Shabazz and co-sponsored by other Council Members which will enable the Council to ratify a series of laws proposed by Governor Markell and Members of the General Assembly as soon as the General Assembly approves the legislation. These include laws requiring background checks for private firearm sales; requiring the reporting of lost and stolen firearms; banning the sale, manufacture, delivery and unlawful possession of large-capacity magazines: banning the manufacture, sale, delivery and unlawful possession of military weapons; and banning possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school.
  • A Resolution was approved tonight by Council as introduced by Council Public Safety Committee Chair Michael A. Brown, Sr. and co-sponsored by other Members to show support for legislation from Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden and Members of the General Assembly regarding stricter bail conditions for violent offenders, the denial of bail altogether in some circumstances and more discretion for judges in making bail determinations. The legislation requires that defendants, who are arrested on violent felony charges while released on bail for a previous offense, have their bail for the first offense revoked if a Superior Court judge decides there is sufficient evidence that the person committed the second offense.  The repeat offender would forfeit the bail if it was cash, and a hearing will be held to set a new bail amount, which must be at least twice the amount of the initial bail. The proposed law would also amend Delaware’s constitution to give judges discretion to order dangerous defendants held without bail if holding them in pre-trial detention is the only way to “reasonably assure the safety” of the public.  If approved, Delaware law would become similar to the federal system which allows judges to hold hearings to determine whether a defendant is too dangerous to release.
  • A Resolution was approved tonight by Council as introduced by 3rd District Council Member Darius Brown and co-sponsored by other members that supports proposed Federal gun control laws to close background check loopholes in order to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous individuals; require background check on all gun sales; ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; additional steps to make schools safer; increase access to mental health services; and end the freeze on research related to the causes of gun violence.

 Council President Gregory, a co-sponsor of the gun safety Ordinance and tonight’s two Resolutions, said City Council urges citizens to contact their State and Federal representatives and ask for their support for the legislation supported tonight through Council action. The Council President said the voice of the people can be heard on these important issues and the will of the people carried out by their elected representatives if the people remain vocal and strong in their desire to have these measures approved.