Former Vice President Joe Biden joined Governor John Carney and legislators today for the signing of a gun safety bill named for his late son Beau.
The new legislation – the Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act – restricts access to guns for people who are believed to be a danger to themselves. The bill defines the terms “dangerous to others” and “dangerous to self” and will compel mental health service providers to report to law enforcement officials when they believe a patient is an imminent threat to kill or seriously injure others.
Biden was joined by his wife Jill, and several friends and family members as well as state lawmakers, law enforcement officials, and about a dozen students who led March for Our Lives rallies and school walkouts in the months leading up to today’s historic signing on the side lawn at the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware.
The legislation was five years in the making, starting with then-Attorney General Beau Biden, who first introduced the bill in 2013. The National Rifle Association and the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association both supported the bill’s enactment.
“Beau protected, changed and saved in my view a lot of lives, and in too short a time that he walked on this earth, and that’s what this event proves today, as well as the work of his Foundation to protect children,” said Joe Biden.
While the bill received bipartisan support in the Delaware legislature, Biden still stressed the importance of Democrats and Republicans working together for additional gun violence protection legislation. “There is room to talk with people with whom you have profound disagreements. There is a place to meet compromise, whether its with the NRA or any other group; there is space.”
One of the students invited to the ceremony addressed the significance of the measure. “It’s thrilling to finally see our advocacy, hours and hours of planning, calling, writing and organizing, finally pay off with tangible legislation that will make a difference and save lives,” said Aiden O’Neill, a sophomore at Salesianum School.
But the students, who talked with several law makers after the event, vowed to press for more legislation hime at curbing gun violence. O’Neill continued, “All of us know, though, that the fight is not over; today was just a start- an important one, but a start nonetheless. We all will be continuing our push for the passage of gun control legislation that will make our communities safer.”
Following the signing, the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence issued a report card on the status of their efforts.
The organization said calls and emails from legislation supporters are making a difference in Dover, but there is more to do. They urged citizens to contact their legislators on both sides of the aisles to maintain momentum with other anti-gun violence bills.
“Our family deeply appreciates this commitment that you all have demonstrated, sewn by so many women and men in the legislature — in fact unanimously — to protect the community,” said Biden.
Photos contributed by Cameron Smith