DOVER, Del. (AP) — A proposal to require anyone in Delaware wanting to buy a handgun to first be fingerprinted, undergo training and obtain permission from the state cleared its first legislative hurdle Wednesday after a public hearing in a Democrat-led Senate committee.
The bill was released by the Senate Judiciary Committee with no Republican support. It now heads to the Finance Committee for consideration of the estimated costs involved in setting up a “permit to purchase” program. Under Senate rules, however, the Finance Committee is not required to hold a hearing, or even to meet, to consider the legislation. Instead, the bill is expected to simply be passed to the full Senate for a floor vote next Tuesday.
The measure is similar to one that passed the Senate in 2021 but stalled in the House. Previous iterations dating to 2019 made even less headway in the General Assembly.
The bill would prohibit licensed gun dealers, as well as private sellers, from transferring a handgun to any person unless that individual has a “qualified purchaser permit.” In order to obtain a permit, a person would have to complete a firearms training course and be fingerprinted by the State Bureau of Identification. The SBI would have 30 days to investigate the person and grant a permit if the applicant is qualified. The agency would be allowed to retain information submitted by an applicant for an indefinite amount of time.
If a permit is granted, it would be valid for only 180 days. A permit could be revoked, and any guns purchased with it seized, if the director of the SBI later makes a determination “supported by probable cause,” that the person poses a danger to himself or others by having a gun.
The bill includes exemptions for active and retired law enforcement officers, and for those who already have concealed carry permits. It also provides for vouchers covering the full cost of a firearms training course for individuals with household income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guideline.
Supporters of the permitting proposal argue that it would help reduce the number of gun homicides and suicides in Delaware and make it more difficult for people to make illegal “straw purchases” of handguns on behalf of those prohibited by law from possessing them.
“This is a common sense measure,” said chief sponsor Elizabeth Lockman, a Wilmington Democrat.
Opponents argue that the bill would impose costly and unnecessary burdens on law-abiding citizens and, like other gun-control measures, be ignored by the criminals responsible for Delaware’s gun violence problem.
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Written by: Editor