Joe Biden stood behind Delaware Governor John Carney Tuesday afternoon as he signed the Beau Biden Gun Violence Protection Act. Named for former Vice-president Biden’s son Beau, the late Attorney General from Delaware, the measure provides new ways for the state to search for and seize the firearms of Delawareans.
As a memorial to the late Mr. Biden, the event was a brilliant success. The assembled speakers had many good feelings about Beau and spoke as if the legislation were somehow a gift to him, posthumously presented thought it was. It also worked well as a celebration of the Biden family in general. Jill Biden was on hand as well, as Ashley Biden spoke and introduced her father Joe, all on the grounds of the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware. His speech was vintage Joe Biden, including a cringe-worthy racial remark and the kind of self-effacing while at once self-congratulating comments only a lifelong politician can stomach and deliver.
A Legacy of Confiscation
He spoke about his son’s work on then-Senator Joe Biden’s crime bill in 1994. Beau was an assistant U.S. Attorney (at the time his father was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee), and he apparently worked tirelessly to remove rights, restrict freedom, and increase government power at the federal level. Titled the “Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act,” that legislation included the federal “assault weapons” ban, animating gun owners around the country for a generation.
The younger Mr. Biden then set to work at the state level, becoming Delaware Attorney General – an office he was twice elected to. In 2013, he set out to ensure that legislation substantially similar to this new law was introduced. It failed. However, this bill had the opposite fate, unanimously passing both houses before the governor signed it.
Duty to Warn
What does it do?
When it takes effect in 90 days, this law will ensure mental health services providers, institutions, agencies, or hospitals are liable for the acts of any unhinged shooter type, if they do not report any person who:
has communicated to the mental health services provider, institution, agency, or hospital an explicit and imminent threat to kill or seriously injure themselves or a clearly identified victim, or to commit a specific violent act or to destroy property under circumstances which could easily lead to serious personal injury or death, and the patient has an apparent intent and ability to carry out the threat.
The law also forbids anyone from suing one of the aforementioned reporting parties for misreporting, either through innocence or maliciousness. People or entities expected to report others to police are exempt from being liable for anything if they pass information along, and may be massively liable for various causes if they don’t. See something, say something, or else…
After a report is made, the police can do nothing, or they can seek an “order of relinquishment” from a Justice of the Peace Court. If police are successful, the subject will then have any and all firearms and ammunition seized for 60 days.
From the legislation’s original synopsis:
This process is an expedited process, akin to obtaining a search or arrest warrant. Under this process, if the Justice of the Peace Court finds probable cause, it must order the relinquishment of firearms to law enforcement and may prohibit the individual from residing with others who possess firearms and grant permission for law enforcement to search for and seize firearms. An order from the Justice of the Peace Court is good for 60 days. If the Department of Justice does not file a petition in Superior Court within 60 days, the Justice of the Peace Court’s order is void, and law enforcement must return the firearms.
First the Verdict, Then the Trial
If the subject loses before the justice of the peace, then the same process happens in Superior Court – the state will try and keep the guns, and the citizens get another chance to prove they’re not crazy.
Beau Biden’s loss is certainly felt deeply by his family and many friends and colleagues. Governor Carney did not, however, sign a memorial proclamation. He signed a bill that takes freedom away from constituents and subjects them to onerous burdens to retain their rights. Many congratulated themselves with gusto on Monday as minor heroes for helping prevent an imagined future atrocity. No pause was given for the rights removed. Joe Biden dismissed objections by the ACLU, declaring that those whose rights were likely to be violated were the ones most likely to be helped by the law.
Given the potential for massive penalties for not reporting people who may act violently and total immunity if reports are made, we can expect a flood of reports will soon be issued. Remember now that the statute requires all these people to report not just promises to murder, but to “destroy property under circumstances which could easily lead to serious personal injury.” How large a universe of behavior is that? We’ll soon to find out in Delaware.