DOVER, Del. (AP) — Democratic lawmakers are doubling down on efforts to enact stricter gun control measures in Delaware after similar attempts failed last year.
In addition to resurrecting proposed bans on certain firearms and ammunition magazines, Democrats also are proposing a new bill requiring anyone who wants to buy a gun in Delaware to obtain permission in advance from state officials.
Under draft legislation expected to be introduced as soon as Wednesday, any Delawarean wanting to buy a firearm would first have to obtain a state-issued "purchaser card," which would require being fingerprinted and taking an approved firearms training course. Gun dealers, meanwhile, would be required to submit information on every gun sold and every gun purchaser for entry into a new state database.
The Democrats also have resurrected and strengthened a proposed ban on certain semiautomatic weapons that gun control advocates describe as "assault weapons" and a proposed ban on "large capacity" magazines.
The ban on military-style semiautomatic rifles, also known as modern sporting rifles, is once again being sponsored by Sen. Bryan Townsend, a Democrat from Newark.
Townsend sponsored similar legislation last year that failed to get out of committee, then was the subject of a failed effort to suspend Senate rules and bring it up for a floor vote.
As with last year's bill, a draft of the revised legislation identifies dozens of "assault long guns" and "assault pistols" that would be banned, with violators subject to felony charges.
The ban also would extend to "copycat" weapons, including any centerfire rifle that has a detachable magazine coupled with a folding stock and a pistol grip that "protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon," and any pistol or centerfire rifle with a fixed magazine holding more than 10 rounds. The legislation, with certain exceptions, would prohibit the sale and transfer of such firearms, as well as transportation across state lines into Delaware. It would not ban possession of weapons purchased legally before the legislation's effective date but would impose restrictions on where they could be possessed and transported.
Unlike last year's legislation, the bill includes a new provision allowing people who already own the proscribed firearms to submit a "voluntary certificate of possession" to state officials as proof of pre-ban ownership. To obtain a certificate — a separate one for each gun — a gun owner would have to submit personal information, and a thumbprint, that would go into a state database.
Democratic lawmakers also are again proposing a ban on "large capacity" magazines, defined as any device holding more than 10 rounds. A similar measure introduced last year was amended to allow magazines holding up to 17 rounds. Given that many Delawareans already possess such magazines, last year's proposed ban also applied only to possession of a high-capacity magazine in a public place while also in possession of a firearm capable of accepting such a magazine.
A draft of this year's bill draws no such distinction and requires people who already lawfully own the proscribed magazines to surrender them to state authorities by June 30, 2020.
The bills are expected to be focal points of discussion at rallies being held Wednesday outside Legislative Hall by both gun rights supporters and gun control advocates.
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