While Vice President Joe Biden has been wrestling with the National Rifle Association over new U.S. gun policies, his son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, has joined with Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and other leaders of the state's ruling Democrats, backed by police and church leaders, to push five "gun safety proposals" designed "to keep guns out of the hands of persons who should not possess them."
The proposal (details below) would ban the sale or ownerhsip of "military style" rifles like the Bushmaster AR-15 that a Newtown, Conn. gun enthusiast's son used to kill 20 schoolchildren and 6 school staff last month. It would also ban sale of "large capacity" ammunition magazines favored by mass killers.
Markell's and Biden's offices couldn't immediately tell me whether their proposals are likely to affect Cabela's Inc.'s plan to build a store on I-85 near sales-tax-free Delaware's Christiana Mall, where Cabela's hopes to sell rifles and other guns and outdoor clothes to gun buyers from Philadelphia, Baltimore and other East Coast communities. Cabela's officials had no immediate comment.
“As a father, veteran and the state’s top law enforcement officer, I know that military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips designed for battle have no place on our streets," said AG Biden in a statement. "These proposals are a reasonable and sensible approach that will improve public safety and respect the Second Amendment.”
The bills will be introduced at the Delaware General Assembly in Delaware later this month. Summary:
1. Requiring Background Checks for Private Firearm Sales: Delaware already requires this when buying guns from licensed dealers. The state wants to extend licensed-dealer background checks to also cover private sales, except between immediate family members. Shotguns would remain exempt.
2. Requiring the Reporting of Lost and Stolen Firearms: This is supposed to discouraged illegal "straw purchases" by people supplying convicted criminals and other persons with restricted rights, who would otherwise have a tougher time buying guns; to warn police of "suspicious patterns of behavior by persons who repeatedly fail to file reports yet claim that their guns were lost or stolen after the guns were recovered from a crime scene;" and to protect theft victims from getting blamed when their stolen guns are used in crimes.
3. Banning the Sale, Manufacture, Delivery and Unlawful Possession of Large-Capacity Magazines: This is supposed to reduce the danger of Newton-style "mass shootings" by limiting killers' ammo.
4. Banning the Manufacture, Sale, Delivery and Unlawful Possession of Military Weapons: "The sale of military-style assault weapons – firearms that are made for the battlefield and have no place in our communities – was outlawed in 1994, but the ban expired a decade later. One such weapon – the Bushmaster AR-15 – was used in the Newtown shootings and also in the murders of two firefighters in Webster, NY, on Christmas Eve last year. This bill would prohibit the manufacture, sale and delivery of these military weapons, while allowing the continued possession and use under certain circumstances of weapons purchased prior to the effective date of the ban."
5. Banning Possession of a Firearm Within 1,000 Feet of a School: "We will enable law enforcement to interdict those individuals who knowingly possess firearms and do so in near school buildings and school yards," so as to create "safe school zones" like the ones designed to limit drug trafficking to students. People who live near schools would be exempt on their property, and won't limit people who have concealed-weapons permits from carrying at schools.