LEGISLATION TO KEEP GUNS OFF OF SCHOOL PROPERTY RELEASED FROM COMMITTEE

Proposal would establish ‘safe school zones;’ Delaware would join more than 30 states

DOVER – The House Education Committee released legislation Wednesday that would establish “safe school zones” and create a new crime for those who carry a firearm or destructive weapon in those areas.

Sponsored by Rep. Darryl M. Scott and Sen. David P. Sokola, chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees, House Bill 67 is one of the five proposals Gov. Markell, Lt. Gov. Denn and Attorney General Biden announced in January to reduce gun violence and better protect children. The bill would ban the possession of firearms or destructive weapons in schools and on school property. A person possessing those weapons would be charged with a class D felony, which is punishable by up to eight years in prison.

“When we talk about taking reasonable, common-sense steps to protect our children from gun violence, this is one way to accomplish that,” said Rep. Scott, D-Dover. “Currently, there is no prohibition in Delaware law for walking onto school property and openly carrying a firearm. That is a fact that might shock some. Dozens of states already restrict firearms on school property, and I’m glad we’ve been able to move this bill one step forward in Delaware today. We owe it to our students to take reasonable steps like this and give law enforcement another tool to keep our children safe.”

The ban only applies to schools, school buses and school property. It does not apply to firearms that are in motor vehicles on school property when the driver is at a legitimate school function.

“Having a clear ban on guns in schools will help keep our children safe,” Attorney General Beau Biden said. “I want to thank Rep. Scott and the House Education Committee for moving this legislation forward.”

 

More than 35 other states already restrict firearms on school property, including Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. 

The bill will now head to the House for a full vote.