Letter to the Editor: Restricting handgun purchases is not answer to violent crime


I recently learned that Delaware legislators are proposing a bill that would put restrictions on the purchase of handguns in Delaware. I decided to do some research to better educate myself on the subject and was surprised to find out that violent offenses in Delaware have declined 9% since 2016. According to the “Crime in Delaware” report issued by the Delaware Criminal Justice Council, of the aggravated assaults in 2021, there were 300 firearm assaults, 296 assaults with knives and 500 assaults with other weapons. In 2017, there were 41 homicides, 32 in 2018, 16 in 2019 and 2020 and 31 in 2021. I could not find what weapon was used in these homicides. The clearance rate for these crimes over that period was around 50%. If I understand the report correctly, that means only about half of the people charged were convicted of something. Remember, plea deals are cut before trial.

On the Delaware Senate Democrats’ website, they have an article justifying the need for Senate Bill 2 and what the restrictions would be. It would require an approved firearm training course and an application to get fingerprinted before someone could purchase a handgun. Please remember that we already have a national background check system. The website states that it wants to be similar to the handgun restrictions of the District of Columbia, which has the highest gun death rate in the U.S. at 18.5 per 100,000 people, and Maryland, with a death rate of 11.8 per 100,000 people. Why would Delaware want to emulate a state or district with a dramatically higher gun death rate, which obviously isn’t working?

Implementing draconian handgun restrictions will not correct the root cause of the problem.

You cannot legislate evil in people’s hearts. As seen in the statistics above, if people do not have a gun, they will use a knife, pipe, whatever. What you can do is address what I consider to be the obvious mental health and crime issues that are creating this situation.

A “clearance rate” of around 50% for people committing gun crimes is unacceptable. How about enforcing the current laws we have and, when people commit gun crimes or any violent crime, arrest and incarcerate them if found guilty? How about increasing funding to address the mental health issue that seems to be the main cause of a lot, if not all, of the mass shootings?

We have all heard and read stories of a woman who breaks up with someone who then stalks her, and how they have restraining orders placed that the stalker ignores and then kills or hurts the woman. Does Delaware really want to be a state that makes a woman wait several weeks to purchase a gun to protect herself, when time is critical, and she really needs it?

Thomas Hoever


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