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Delaware: Contact Your State Representative Immediately in Opposition to House Bill 88

Monday, May 13, 2013

Your action is needed NOW!  The Delaware House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on House Bill 88 tomorrow, and erroneous statements and reports in the media have led to the impression that the NRA has offered unqualified support for this bill. The NRA has sent a letter (which can be read here) to all Delaware legislators explaining the flaws in HB 88.  Call your state Representative and ask him or her to oppose HB 88 until all of the current issues with the proposed legislation have been corrected. 

Everyone agrees that we have a collective responsibility to help prevent persons who have clearly been proven dangerous from having access to firearms.  HB 88 begins to address critical mental health issues, however, it does not include enough safeguards critical to ensuring protection of individual civil rights to the fullest extent possible - which points are critical to the NRA’s position of opposition to this bill in its current form.  Until HB 88 provides adequate protection of due process rights, property rights and implements proper procedural safeguards, it must be opposed.

The NRA will continue to work with all elected officials to help prevent dangerous persons from gaining access to firearms.  However, under the current language, this proceeding requires only a preponderance of the evidence to establish this permanent disability.  This standard of evidence is not acceptable and not appropriate.  Other circumstances that could lead to a permanent abrogation of Second Amendment rights require higher standards of proof (for example, proof beyond a reasonable doubt for convictions; clear and convincing evidence for civil commitments).

While some circumstances might impose disqualifications under a lesser standard, those disqualifications are not presumptively permanent and would expire by operation of law with the expiration of the order itself.  Because of the importance of the liberty interest at stake and the total and continuing nature of this prohibition, an enhanced standard of proof must be required at the hearing.  An amendment to the legislation therefore must be made to raise this standard to clear and convincing evidence in order for the NRA to withdraw our opposition to this bill.

House Bill 88, while a step in the right direction, is a “work in progress” at this time.  Until the legislation is amended to address appropriate standards of proof, it is a flawed bill that must be opposed.  It is our hope that HB 88 can move through the legislative process in a deliberate manner, as we are willing to work with the General Assembly to address these reasonable concerns and to craft legislation that enhances public safety while guaranteeing the fundamental rights of all Delawareans. 

Please contact your state Representative immediately and politely ask him or her to OPPOSE HB 88 until all of the proper due process safeguards are included in this bill.

Contact information for your legislators may be found here.

 

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