Town hall meeting for gun legislation held in Newark

The News Journal | by Alonzo Small

The Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence hosted a town hall meeting Tuesday in Newark to review the state’s gun violence legislation that has passed in the last couple of years.

Sen. Bryan Townsend, Rep. Paul Baumbach, Rep. John Kowalko and Rep. Ed Osienski appeared before an “encouraging” group of locals at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark to discuss the 2017 legislative season and the “common sense” gun violence legislation that has passed since the tragedy of Sandy Hook, which was the catalyst for the coalition’s formation, said Liane Sorenson, chair of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Educational Fund.

One day shy of the four-year anniversary of the massacre, three bills have passed in Delaware pertaining to guns in that time span: House Bill 35, which requires background checks for the sale and/or transfer of firearms; Senate Bill 83, which aims to keep guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers; and the House Bill 325, which increased the amount of time for a background check to be completed before a gun purchase from three days to 25 days.

Those associated with the DeCAGV are not opposed to the Second Amendment, which grants the right to bear arms. They are, however, “opposed to the ready availability of military-style weapons” on the streets of Delaware and the continuation of the misinterpreted information that more guns means a safer community, Sorenson said.

Impending leadership changes on both the state and federal level and how that impacts the coalition’s cause was discussed at length.

“There’s still deaths out there that we can prevent by continuing to do legislation and that is what we will do,” Baumbach said.

Some questioned how much progress can and will be made in the coming years.

Baumbach said he fears that President-elect Donald Trump and his staff will not embrace the reduction of gun violence at the federal level, which would make it harder for laws to pass statewide.

Kowalko echoed Baumbach’s sentiment while also focusing his attention on the National Rifle’s Association’s opposition of stricter gun laws nationwide.

“I can’t comprehend as a human being how little regard we allow ourselves to have an honest evaluation of what’s best for the health, safety and nurturing environment that our children earned and deserve every day because of a lobbyist group of paranoids to influence our public policy,” Kowalko said to the applause of the crowd.

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