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January 17, 2018

Delaware legislation prevents those with mental illness from owning firearms

In the years since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, many states have pushed for updates to gun control laws, including Delaware, which was one of the earliest adopters. Now, five years later, legislators in Delaware hope to tighten regulations regarding gun ownership by barring those with mental conditions from purchasing firearms.

If passed, the law will be named after late state Attorney General Beau Biden, who advocated the bill while in office and before his death in 2015. When the legislation was previously introduced, it fell short of passing in the Senate.

Delaware residents with a history of mental illness, including anyone admitted to a hospital for a mental condition or any criminal suspects found mentally ill or incompetent, will be barred from owning a gun if the bill comes to reality.

In addition to cutting down on violent crimes, supporters of the bill also hope to prevent suicides. Last year in Delaware, about half of the 125 reported suicides involved a firearm, WHYY reported.

Though gun control has been a long-running debate throughout Congress, Delaware Governor John Carney said there’s less disagreement about keeping guns from the hands of those with mental conditions.

"It’s a very contentious debate whenever you talk about gun safety legislation -- those who support strongly the 2nd Amendment, and those who believe strongly in gun control,” Carney told WHYY.

“Not many disagree…around the idea of keeping guns out of the hands of people with mental illness.”

Last month other gun regulations in Delaware were lifted, however, as previous legislation banning guns from state parks was deemed unconstitutional.