Three firearms bills have been introduced and await consideration in the Senate Executive Committee.
Here’s what you need to know:
Senate Bill 68 – “Delaware Assault Weapons Prohibition Act of 2019”
Primary sponsor: Sen. Bryan Townsend (D – Newark) and sponsors Sens. Harris McDowell (D – Wilm) and Nnamdi Chukwuocha (D – Wilm)
Co-sponsors: Sens. David Sokola (D – Newark) and Laura Sturgeon (D – Brandywine West) and Reps. Paul Baumbach (D – Newark), David Bentz (D – Bear), Stephanie Bolden (D – Wilm), Debra Heffernan (D – Bellfonte), Kendra Johnson (D – Brandywine East), John Kowalko (D – Newark)
The bill is based on Maryland’s 2013 Firearm Safety Act, and its primary goal is “to reduce the availability of assault weapons so that when a criminal acts, he or she does so with a less dangerous weapon and less severe consequences.”
It does not prohibit the possession or transport of firearms that were lawfully possessed or fully applied for before the effective date of act – with conditions.
It does, beginning on the date the law becomes effective, prohibit the manufacture, sale, offer of sale, transfer, purchase, receipt, possession, or transport of assault weapons in Delaware, with certain exceptions.
It does not apply to:U.S. government officials Armed forces of the U.S., National Guard Law enforcement officers Retired law enforcement officers, under certain conditions Sellers of firearms to law enforcement officers Armored car guards within the scope of their employment Certain ballistics testing facilities Sellers of firearms to a licensed dealer in another state Those who inherit assault weapons lawfully possessed by the decedent Licensed firearms dealers in possession of lawful automatic weapons for the purpose of service and repair
The law would take effect 60 days after the act is signed. If you lawfully possessed, had a purchase order for or completed an application to buy an assault weapon before that date, you may possess it if you are at or transporting it to:Your own property Another’s property, with express permission A shooting range Certain firearm exhibitions Certain testing facilities The possession of family member not lawfully prohibited
A violation of this law, if enacted, would be a Class F felony, and subsequent offenses within ten years would be a Class E felony.
It’s not required, but those who lawfully possessed an assault weapon before the act takes effect may apply to the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security for a certificate of possession. The certificate would constitute conclusive evidence of entitlement to the weapon. It must be applied for within one year of the effective date of the act.
The certificate would include the name, address, date of birth and thumb print of the owner and the gun’s make, model and serial number, and would be entered into a database accessible by law enforcement.
Senate Bill 69 – “Delaware Firearm Qualified Purchaser Card Act”
Primary sponsor: Sen. Laura Sturgeon (D – Brandywine West) and sponsors Sens. Bryan Townsend (D – Newark) and Harris McDowell (D – Wilm) and Reps. Krista Griffith (D – Fairfax) and David Bentz (D – Bear)
Co-sponsors: Sens. S. Elizabeth Lockman (D – Wilm) and David Sokola (D – Newark) and Reps. Paul Baumbach (D – Newark) and Stephanie Bolden (D – Wilm)
The bill creates handgun- and firearms-qualified purchaser cards. If enacted, a card would be required to buy a firearm. An applicant for a card must have completed a firearms training course within two years before applying. Handgun cards would be issued to individuals ages 21 and older, while firearms cards would be issued to those 18 and older.
The cards would be the responsibility of the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security, and must be issued or denied within 30 days of submittal. The handgun purchaser card allows the holder to buy a single gun, within 90 days of issue. The firearms purchaser card allows the holder to buy unlimited firearms, other than handguns, for three years. If a cardholder becomes unable to lawfully buy a handgun or other firearm, the card must be returned within five days, subject to a misdemeanor offense. Those refused a card can request a Superior Court hearing. It must be held within 15 days and a formal plea or filing fee are not required.
The application would include name, address, place of business, age, date of birth, occupation, sex, physical description (including distinguishing physical characteristics) and a sworn affirmation that the person is not legally prohibited from possessing a firearm. This information would be made available to law enforcement, but it is information that is already required and made available to law enforcement when buying a firearm.
Individuals who could not obtain a purchaser card or, in effect, buy a firearm are:
Those convicted of a felony (anywhere), regardless of whether or not the individual was armed at the timeJuveniles adjudicated as delinquent for conduct which, as an adult, would constitute a felony, until that person reaches their twenty-fifth birthday. Those convicted of a violent crime which is not a felony, for a period of five years after the date of conviction. Those involuntarily committed for a mental condition (Delaware Code, Title 16 of Chapter 50), unless they successfully petition the Relief from Disabilities Board. Those found to be not guilty by reason of insanity, guilty but mentally ill or mentally incompetent to stand trial for a crime of violence, unless that person has since been found to be competent or successfully petitions the Relief from Disabilities Board. Anyone who poses a danger of causing physical injury to self or others by owning, purchasing, or possessing firearms. Those subject to a family court protection from abuse order, other than an ex parte order or contested orders which were issued for reasons of “engaging in a course of alarming or distressing conduct” which is not violent, trespassing or any other non-violent abuse. For five years from the date of conviction, those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. A fugitive from justice in any felony case. Those subject to a lethal violence protection order. Those convicted for the unlawful use, possession, or sale of a narcotic, dangerous drug, or central nervous system depressant or stimulant. This includes drugs in Title 16, Chapter 47, Subchapter II of the Delaware Code, including heroin and prescription opiates, methamphetamine, cocaine, PCP, MDMA, hallucinogens like LSD and psilocybin (psychoactive mushrooms) and any form of marijuana not approved by the FDA.
If a cardholder becomes unable to lawfully purchase a handgun or other firearm for any of these reasons, the card must be returned within five days, subject to a misdemeanor offense.
Senate Bill 70 – “Delaware Large Capacity Magazine Prohibition Act of 2019”
Primary sponsor: Sen. David Sokola (D – Newark), and sponsors Sens. Bryan Townsend (D – Newark) and Harris McDowell (D – Wilm) and Rep. Paul Baumbach (D – Newark)
Co-sponsors: Sen. Laura Sturgeon (D – Sharpley) and Reps. David Bentz (D – Bear), Stephanie Bolden (D – Wilm), Nnamdi Chukwuocha (D – Wilm) and Debra Heffernan (D – Bellfonte)
The bill bans ammunition feeding devices with the capacity to accept more than 15 rounds of ammunition.
The law would not apply to:U.S. government officials, armed forces members or National Guard Law enforcement officers Retired law enforcement officers, under certain conditions Those with a valid concealed carry permit issued by the Superior Court
The state Department of Safety and Homeland Security would be required to establish a compensation program beginning on the effective date of the act and ending on June 30, 2020 On that date large-capacity magazine owners would be required to relinquish them to law enforcement. Compensation would be $10 each.
The compensation program is subject to funding by the General Assembly, not a guarantee. The act does appropriate $15,00, but that is a severable section of the bill.
Violation of this law constitutes a Class B misdemeanor. Subsequent offenses constitute Class E felonies.