Gov. John Carney, on April 29, signed the Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act alongside former Vice President Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Ashley Biden, Rep. David Bentz, legislators and gun safety advocates at the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware.
The Beau Biden Act, passed unanimously by the general assembly, will help restrict access to firearms for those who mental health professionals believe present a danger to themselves or others. The act, which takes effect six months after its signing, mirrors legislation championed by former Attorney General Beau Biden in 2013.
“I am honored to sign this legislation, and to help carry on Beau’s legacy and his commitment to protecting Delawareans,” said Carney. “The Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act is important, common sense legislation — and one piece in a package of comprehensive gun safety reform that will help make our state safer. This law will ensure that law enforcement and health professionals are working more closely together to confront the issue of gun violence and mental health. And it will help keep firearms away from those who may pose a danger to themselves or others, while protecting due process rights and ensuring continued access to important mental health services.”
“My son Beau always believed that there was room for common sense gun safety legislation. It is something he supported and worked for his whole professional career, including championing a nearly identical bill as attorney general,” said Joe Biden. “While that bill came up short of passage before we lost Beau, he was always confident that we would move in the right direction. This bill will make the state of Delaware safer while safeguarding every Delawarean’s rights to due process. It is a fitting tribute to Beau’s legacy.”
The Beau Biden Gun Violence Prevention Act adds to the list of persons prohibited from owning a firearm any person who has been committed to a hospital for treatment of a mental condition, as well as perpetrators of violent crimes who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity, guilty but mentally ill or mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Those individuals have not been prohibited from owning firearms under Delaware law. The new law also requires health professionals to report to law enforcement anyone they believe presents a danger to themselves or others. Appropriate law enforcement agencies must then investigate — and may seek a court order to require individuals to relinquish firearms, if they are found to present a danger. The law, which takes effect six months after its signing, also allows affected individuals to appeal orders to the Supreme Court, and petition to have their firearms returned.