Like so many others in Delaware and around the country this week, I have spent a lot of time last few days thinking about the issues raised by the awful tragedy in Connecticut. In living rooms and kitchens, as well as at the highest levels of government, we are having conversations about what we need to do. Our President has asked Vice-President Biden to lead a group to look at gun laws with a report due in January.
What’s clear to me is we have a culture of violence in this country. We as a society continue to fail adolescents struggling with mental illness. I think we need to focus our time and attention on three areas in moving forward.
First is mental health. We must work to remove more of the stigma associated with mental illness and recognize it for the disease that it is. Access to treatment is critical, and we are preparing plans to expand that access, especially for children and teens.
Second is school safety. This year, we created a new statewide protocol for comprehensive school safety plans in every public school. Working with the Department of Safety and Homeland Security and with local emergency responders, schools are now in the process of creating those plans. We need to make sure that we complete the effort.
Third – gun laws. In 2011, I proposed, and the General Assembly passed, bills designed to strengthen enforcement around existing gun laws, including legislation to make sure Delaware does its part to keep those with disqualifying mental illnesses from obtaining guns. I am on the record as supporting a ban on assault weapons with large magazines. As we move forward, I believe there are measures that reasonable gun owners can agree with.
Lastly, as a parent, I know the easy attraction of movies, shows, videos and games that depict violence… in many cases, too much violence. We share a family and social responsibility to promote activities that value, not devalue, human life. We have a civic responsibility to act given what has taken place. We will be discussing what more we can do here in Delaware, as citizens and as a state, to help keep us moving forward