Legislators introduce bills addressing drugs, guns and gender

Bruce Ennis

DOVER — Legislation announced Tuesday would make slight revisions to the state’s laws concerning naloxone — a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses — with the aim of simplifying statutes and making them more consistent.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Anthony Delcollo, a Marshallton Republican, would grant immunity to firefighters and other first responders who make a good-faith effort to revive someone believed to have overdosed on heroin or a similar drug.

“When someone is in dire need of emergency first aid, those that come to their rescue shouldn’t have to stop and call a lawyer first,” Sen. Bruce Ennis, a Smyrna Democrat, said in a statement. “Currently, Delaware laws protect police officers from most liability lawsuits after trying to save a life and it is time that those protections are extended to our firefighters, EMS technicians and other first responders.

“Especially after years of dealing with the addiction epidemic, we know that these changes are necessary and can lead to more lives saved. I wholeheartedly support this bill and look forward to passing it quickly.”

Several other bills introduced Tuesday would lessen penalties for juvenile offenders and give judges greater discretion in sentencing them.

One measure would allow judges to try certain individuals charged with possession of a firearm during commission of a felony as juveniles. Current state law requires all individuals older than 15 to be tried as adults for the crime, a felony carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of two years.

The bill would allow judges to try teenagers who are between 16 and 18 as juveniles. Anyone younger than 16 would be tried as a juvenile.

The language is similar to a bill passed last year giving judges similar discretion for several other crimes. That piece of legislation was amended to remove the provision regarding possession of a firearm during commission of a felony by juveniles.

A second proposal would no longer allow a juvenile adjudication to count as an aggravating factor triggering a stricter punishment for certain drug crimes, while another bill would end mandatory minimums for youth adjudicated delinquent in Family Court.

All three measures are sponsored by Rep. J.J. Johnson, a New Castle Democrat.

An amendment to a bill banning bump stocks used on guns was also filed to allow owners of such stocks time to dispose of them.

Bump stocks, or trigger cranks, allow for a more rapid rate of fire, and authorities said they were used by the man who killed 58 people in the Oct. 1 Las Vegas massacre.

A bill making bump stocks illegal was filed in December, but some expressed concerns the measure gave current owners no time to dispose of them.

The amendment, filed by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, a Bear Democrat who is the main sponsor of the bill banning bump stocks, would grant owners 120 days to get rid of their trigger cranks.

The previously filed bill would make possession of such devices a Class E felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Another proposal would change two words in the state song, “Our Delaware,” to make it gender neutral.

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