Gov. John Carney joined Rep. David Bentz, the Coalition Against Gun Violence and other members of the general assembly Jan. 16 in announcing the introduction of the Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act.
The legislation — similar to a bill advanced in 2013 by then-Attorney General Beau Biden — would help limit access to firearms for those who present a danger to themselves or others. Bentz is the prime sponsor of the legislation, which also takes steps to protect due process and ensure that the state does not create barriers to care for those suffering from mental illness.
“Today we brought together a wide-ranging coalition of advocates to introduce legislation aimed at confronting an issue our entire country faces — gun violence,” said Carney. “This legislation will protect our communities by restricting access to firearms for those who are considered a danger to themselves or others. It will also ensure our health professionals and law enforcement are working more closely together when it comes to the issue of firearms. We’re honored to introduce this legislation under the name the Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act, carrying on Beau’s legacy and recognizing his commitment to protecting Delawareans during his time as attorney general.”
“We have an obligation to prevent senseless gun violence whenever possible. When a person presents a danger to themselves or others, mental health professionals can help prevent some of these tragedies and save lives,” said Bentz. “The Beau Biden bill achieves a balance between promoting public safety and sensible gun control policy while protecting the due process and Second Amendment rights of Delawareans. This balance is why there was so much consensus among mental health professionals, Second Amendment advocates and legislators of both parties, when it was originally proposed.”
The Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act would add to the list of persons prohibited from owning a firearm any person who has been committed to a hospital for treatment of a mental condition; and perpetrators of violent crimes who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity, guilty but mentally ill or mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Those individuals are currently not prohibited from owning firearms under current law. The legislation announced would require health professionals to report to law enforcement anyone they believe presents a danger to themselves or others. Appropriate law enforcement agencies must then investigate — and may seek an order from Superior Court to require individuals to relinquish firearms, if they are found to present a danger.
The court may allow individuals to relinquish firearms to a personal designee. The legislation also allows affected individuals to appeal orders to the Supreme Court and petition to have their firearms returned.