A joint resolution to declare gun violence a public health emergency passed along party lines in the Delaware House and Senate Tuesday.
In a House voice vote for Senate Concurrent Resolution 12, there was an audible opposition from the Republican side of the aisle. In the Senate it passed 14 to six,..
Introduced by Sen. Marie Pinkney, D-Bear, today, March 14, the resolution included 16 additional sponsors and cosponsors, all Democrats.
“We have a responsibility to protect the people who elect us, trust us and believe in us,” Pinkney said.
The resolution acknowledges 36 people in Delaware have been shot this year so far and 226 last year.
“I’m asking for us to pull resources forward to save hundreds of lives and years to come,” she said.
She introduced a similar resolution in 2021, Senate Concurrent Resolution 8, which passed the Senate 13 to eight, but was not voted on in the House.
Democrats hold large majorities in both chambers.
The resolution states that the legislature will support policies to ”make schools safe, confront armed hate and extremism, prevent suicide, and center and support survivors of gun violence.”
It does not name any specific program or act.
There was no discussion of the resolution in the House.
However, several Republican senators argued lives are also saved by guns, that guns are among many things that imperil the lives of Delawareans, that the opioid crisis is worse than the gun crisis and that violence cannot be contained.
Senate Minority Whip Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, said that he took issue with several of the whereas clauses in the resolution.
“I think we can all agree that violence and loss of life is something that we should do everything we can to avoid it,” Pettyjohn said. “And whether it’s by gun, whether it’s by knife, whether it’s by a drunk driver on our road, we need to look for facts. We need to look for proven ways to diminish the number of Delawareans who are dying before their time.”
Pettyjohn said that the fourth clause, which states that gun violence costs about $557.2 billion annually, is incomplete because many lives are also saved due to gun violence.
He also cited the fifth clause, which states that more guns have been sold during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pettyjohn said he doesn’t think there’s a correlation between an increase in guns sold and gun violence.
Pinkney said that addressing gun violence doesn’t mean they don’t care about other causes of death.
“Today. I’m talking about a public health approach to the violence that results from gun ownership and from gun use,” Pinkney said. “I’m asking for us to put resources behind data gathering. I’m asking for us to put additional resources to the proven violence reduction programs that we already have across this state…I am simply asking that we put money and resources behind stopping people from dying.”
Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel, argued that it’s impossible to stop violence.
“I certainly agree with you,” he said. “We’ve got to stop the unnecessary killings, dying from drugs or what have you in the state of Delaware.
“Can we stop it? No, we can’t. Violence has always been .. We’ve always had the violence and more people are killed…from knives and fists than firearms.”
RELATED STORY: Dover senator: Bills pushed through Assembly too fast
RELATED STORY: Heated debate ends in vote to raise teacher pay over 4 years
Sens. Kyle Evans Gay, D-Brandywine Hundred/Arden, and Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown/Newark, asked to be added to the list of co-sponsors.
Gay, her voice breaking while she spoke, said she wished she didn’t have to worry about firearms while her kids were in kindergarten.
“I have a kindergartener, and every one of us a couple weeks ago felt the pain and the terror of people who were even just purporting to use firearms to hurt our children,” she said, referring to fake calls to Delaware police saying elementary schools had an active shooter.
“We were terrorized and I look forward to a day when I don’t have to stop in the middle of the day trying to serve my constituents and ask myself whether I need to drive to a school to rescue my child,” she said. “because I would run into that building and I know so many people would.”
The resolution now heads to Gov. John Carney for his signature.
Share this Post