Delaware Bill Would Strip Rights Of Those Only Accused Of Certain Crimes

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

I’m constantly amazed at how many people think that rights are granted, rather than innate in our being. That’s especially true of gun rights. An awful lot of people think our gun rights are granted by the Second Amendment, rather than merely protected by them. It’s why so many seem to believe just repealing the Second Amendment would be enough to justify all manner of gun control.

However, rights don’t work that way.

Rights are something you have, but they can be taken away. It’s generally accepted that a criminal who has been convicted of various crimes can be locked away, denied many of his rights, as a way to make society safer and to hopefully deter future criminal activity.  However, we require a conviction for this to happen. Someone has to provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime.

We don’t always get it right, but we do put forth the best effort we can.

Unfortunately, a bill in Delaware seeks to deny people their gun rights based on little more than accusations.

A bill aimed to reduce gun violence in Delaware, specifically to protect victims of domestic violence, was passed unanimously in the House last Tuesday.

House Bill 124 prohibits those in the state of Delaware with arrest warrants, indictments or protection from abuse orders from buying, possessing or owning a firearm or a dangerous weapon.

Rep. Krista Griffith helped to create the bill. As a former prosecutor of the Delaware Department of Justice, she said part of her job involved prosecuting crimes of domestic violence and wanted to eliminate any lingering loopholes in the system.

“The goal here really is to reduce gun violence as we’ve seen over the years mass shootings have gone up, and there’s also a direct link between mass shootings and domestic violence,” she said. “Studies show that many people who commit mass shootings also have committed acts of domestic violence.”

I get that’s Griffith’s goal, but that’s not what this bill actually does.

Look, few people are advocating for giving convicted domestic abusers their gun rights back. I’m not a fan of taking the rights away from people convicted of non-felonies, but my solution is to simply make these crimes felonies and let it get sorted out that way.

However, arrest warrants, indictments, and protection orders aren’t convictions. They can be gotten with very little due process and little more than a seemingly credible accusation. It also cuts both ways; in many cases both partners will file protective orders against each other, and this bill could make it impossible for domestic violence victims to have a firearm for protection against their abuser.

While I don’t have sympathy for those who abuse their partners, I also don’t like the continued encroachment on who gets to exercise their Second Amendment rights. It’s easy to lash out at such an unpopular group as wife-beaters, but how long before it’s some other popular group?

“But mass shootings! Griffith said-”

Yes, she said there was a link between mass shootings and domestic violence. More than that, she’s right. That link certainly does appear to exist.

However, that doesn’t mean everyone accused of domestic violence is guilty of it. We live by the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” in this country. We don’t deny people their rights without good reason, and I’m not convinced an accusation of something like this is a good enough reason.

Especially knowing that this will be used to justify they next bit of encroachment into just who gets to exercise their gun rights and who can’t.