Political grandstanding blocks critical concealed carry reform
Earlier this year, Delaware's efforts to join the ranks of the vast majority of states by becoming a "shall-issue" state through passage of a Concealed Carry Reform Bill, HB 359, appeared to be on the fast track for success. In January, almost 1,000 Delawareans rallied at the Modern Maturity Center in Dover in support of Concealed Carry Reform. Chris Cox, NRA's Executive Director of the Institute for Legislative Action, NRA President Sandy Froman, NRA First Vice President John Sigler, NRA Second Vice President Ron Schmeits, and DSSA's President John Thompson spoke at the rally. Governor Minner also appeared at the rally in a show of support for our efforts.
The News Journal, which is usually very critical of the efforts of law-abiding gun owners, published a fair and balanced report of the rally and even published an op-ed piece calling for quick passage and encouraging the Governor to sign the bill into law.
With 21 sponsors in the House and 11 sponsors in the Senate, and with Rep. Deborah Hudson (R-12) as the House Prime Sponsor on the bill, the leadership and support behind HB 359 was strong.
However, opposition was lurking in the bushes in the form of Delaware's Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security -- David Mitchell. Secretary Mitchell is none other than the infamous former head of the Maryland State Police that served under the rabidly anti-gun Maryland Governor Parris Glendenning (D). When Mitchell left Maryland state government after accruing an unparalleled anti-gun record and a well deserved reputation for saying anything to anyone that would further his own personal anti-gun agenda, he went straight to work as a paid "professional" on the staff of the so-called Brady Campaign (otherwise known as Handgun Control Inc.). He then left the Brady Campaign, and within days, was on the Delaware State payroll -- paid with your tax dollars.
With a majority of the House and Senate as sponsors of the bill, and with assurances from the Governor's office that all was well, a committee hearing was held with Rep. Hudson doing an outstanding job in presenting our position. It was at this point when we had our first hard evidence that Mitchell was up to his old tricks. Mitchell's staff orchestrated an opposition game plan right out of the HCI playbook, complete with both Brady's and a handful of supposedly well meaning but woefully ill-informed police chiefs regurgitating the HCI/Brady-Bunch mantra of fear and anti-gun hatred.
The result of all of this was the introduction of a number of "killer amendments" designed to kill the bill and further intrude upon the privacy of the honest citizens of the State of Delaware - many of which smack of the police-state mentality uniformly fostered throughout the United States by HCI, the so-called Brady Campaign, and its euphemistically named "Violence Policy Center".
While some of the amendments may have been offered with good intentions in mind, most were not. The vast majority of those amendments placed in full view the total lack of trust that many (of both parties) in the General Assembly have for their fellow citizens, especially those citizens who are willing to accept responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their families. Most of those amendments were designed to make obtaining and/or using a concealed carry permit so onerous that no one in their right mind would ever apply for one and those of us who already have them, would either turn them in or simply let them expire. And that was their real game plan - to reduce or eliminate the Right of self-defense.
The actions of numerous Delaware police chiefs and far too many of the members of the General Assembly can only be summed up in one way - these individuals both fear and distrust you, the honest citizens who form the backbone of the society they have sworn to protect and defend. Despite clear and convincing evidence to the contrary here in Delaware and elsewhere, and despite a total lack of incidents to support their fears and mistrust, the police chiefs and their supporters in the General Assembly have demonstrated through their recent actions and statements that they firmly believe that anyone who holds, or wishes to hold, a concealed carry permit is automatically a danger to the police and to the rest of society!
We expected HCI's former employee, Secretary David Mitchell, to oppose our bill despite protestations from the Governor to the contrary - and he did. What we did not expect was Delaware's police chiefs turning on their constituents - but they did. And while we fully expected rabid anti-gunners like Rep. Melanie Marshall (D-5) and Rep. Helene Keeley (D-3) to introduce killer amendments to our bill, we did not expect such actions from some of our usual "friends." Now, however, Delaware's NRA members know their positions.
NRA-ILA, along with Representative Hudson, worked hard to bring Delaware into the mainstream to join the 40 other states that now have "shall issue concealed carry", or its equivalent. Representative Hudson is willing to work with us again and to never stop trying to see this important legislation become law. NRA members owe a debt of gratitude to Rep. Hudson and to all those in both the House and the Senate who stood with us during these troubled times.
In the end, the chances that one of the truly onerous amendments being attached to the bill was too great a risk to take on behalf the honest citizens of Delaware - it is better to have no bill than a bad bill.
As we get closer to the election, both DSSA and NRA-ILA will be publishing "grades" for all of the major candidates for public office this November. HB 359 will be high among the issues considered when those scores are assigned.
To find out further information about Delaware’s Firearm Laws, please visit www.NRAILA.org.