April 25 (UPI) — Delaware’s Senate passed gun control legislation allowing police to seize weapons from those deemed a danger to themselves or others.
The upper chamber of the state’s General Assembly passed the bill unanimously Tuesday evening after 40 minutes of debate. The Delaware House passed the legislation in March and it will now go to the desk of Democrat Gov. John Carney.
The legislation was named for the late Beau Biden, former Delaware attorney general and son of former Vice President Joe Biden. The younger Biden died of brain cancer in 2015.
Carney indicated he plans to sign the Beau Biden Gun Violence Protection Act into law, saying on Twitter that the law “is a really important piece of legislation in a package of comprehensive gun safety reform that will help make our state safer.”
It is similar to a bill Beau Biden proposed in 2013, which failed in the state Senate.
The new law would allow police to temporarily seize firearms from someone whom a mental health professional deems a danger to themselves or others. The so-called “red flag” law is meant to notify law enforcement if a person shows indications of prospective violence. The proposal was supported by both gun control advocates and some Second Amendment supporters to control gun violence in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., in February. Similar bills are pending in 22 states and the District of Columbia.
“It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start that helps solve part of the puzzle,” President Jeff Hague of the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association, said on Tuesday. “This deals with the people that are one of the causes of most gun violence involving mass murders rather than putting all the focus on an inanimate object.”
The bill calls for a mental health provider to notify police if a patient makes an “explicit or imminent threat” to kill or injure someone. Police would be required to both verify that the person is a risk to themselves or others, and determine whether the person owns firearms or ammunition. At that point a justice of the peace magistrate could order that the person’s weapons be seized for up to 30 days. The judge also could allow the gun owner to turn their weapons over to a third party.
“My son Beau always believed that there was room for common sense gun safety legislation,” Joe Biden said. “It is something he supported and worked for his whole professional career.”