June 25, 2015 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), issued the below statement today applauding the bipartisan vote in the Delaware House of Representatives approving Senate Bill 83, which addresses gaps in Delaware law to help protect domestic violence victims from abusers with access to firearms. The bill, which had been approved by the Delaware Senate in a bipartisan vote earlier this month, now heads to the desk of Governor Jack Markell. Congresswoman Giffords’ statement:
“Today represents a bipartisan victory for common sense, responsibility, and safer communities. In the face of calls from Delaware’s domestic violence survivors and public safety officials, Republicans and Democrats came together to do the responsible thing: pass a law that helps keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and protect vulnerable people and their families. This law will save lives. I am grateful to the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington) and Rep. Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear), for standing up for common sense and for leading the fight to pass this life-saving piece of legislation. I am also grateful to Attorney General Matt Denn and Governor Jack Markell for their steadfast support for this commonsense bill. I look forward to seeing Governor Markell sign this bill into law and help make Delaware a safer place to live.”
Once signed into law, Senate Bill 83, which was co-sponsored by Democratic and Republican legislators, will protect victims of domestic violence and dating violence by helping prevent domestic abusers’ access to guns, without affecting the Second Amendment rights of law abiding people. The bill would:
Prevent individuals convicted of dating partner violence within the past five years from buying or owning guns. Under current Delaware law, when a dating abuser or a former cohabitant is convicted in a court of law beyond reasonable doubt of “misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence” he or she is permitted to purchase or possess a gun. This poses a serious danger to the victim and his or her family. This legislation will prohibit abusers who have been convicted for a misdemeanor crime of a domestic violence when the victim was a substantive dating partner or when the criminal offense happened within 3 years from when the relationship ended from owning or possessing guns for 5 years.
Protect victims who have fled their homes from their abuser. Current Delaware law only prohibits gun possession by a person convicted of victimizing a cohabitant if they were living together at the time of the crime. This means that an abuser does not lose his or her gun eligibility if he or she is convicted for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence after the victim fled the home. This legislation would ensure convicted abusers are prohibited from possessing firearms for five years when the criminal offense happened within 3 years from when the victim fled the home.
Help enforce existing law by requiring that people subject to a Protection From Abuse order, who have been instructed to surrender their firearms, identify to the court how they have done so. The bill would also help ensure that guns are surrendered pursuant to a PFA order by clarifying that the abuser must turn over these weapons immediately upon the request of a law enforcement officer or, if no request is made, within 24 hours at a staffed police station.
Congresswoman Giffords visited the Delaware State Capitol last month and called on lawmakers to pass SB 83 and help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
A recent survey of registered Delaware voters conducted on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions found that a broad majority of Delawareans – including gun owners – support the bill’s key elements. Click here to read a summary of the research’s findings.
Nationally, women in the U.S. are 11 times likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other developed countries, and more than half of all murders of America’s women are committed with a gun. Abused women are also five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if that individual has access to a firearm.