Sponsored by Rep. Larry Mitchell and Sen. Dave Sokola, House Bill 423 will strengthen background checks and reduce straw purchases by reinstituting the state-run Firearm Transaction Approval Program in the State Bureau of Identification of the Delaware State Police. The Senate joined the House in passing the bill unanimously.
Discontinued in 2011 during budget cuts related to the Great Recession, FTAP will once again become the point of contact for most firearm purchases or transfers in Delaware. The recreation of a state-run system will allow SBI to halt gun sales to people who would not be flagged by the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System, including people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence and people with outstanding warrants.
House Bill 423 would designate the bureau’s FTAP as the point of contact between a federal firearms licensee and the federal databases checked by the FBI to conduct background checks for firearm purchases or transfers. By establishing SBI as the point of contact for all firearm purchases or transfers in Delaware, the bureau would become responsible for determining if a potential buyer or transferee is prohibited from receipt or possession of a firearm under state or federal law. This would enable SBI to search other databases in addition to relying on the required NICS check, enhancing background checks conducted in the state.
For example, persons who are convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense are prohibited from possessing a firearm for five years. NICS would not be aware of such an offense unless it was identified as a domestic violence offense in a particular system. FTAP, however, would have access to state records and would be able to more easily identify the relationship between victim and offender for a particular conviction. Additionally, any person who has an outstanding warrant is prohibited. However, NICS only has access to a national database capturing those persons with outstanding warrants who the prosecuting agency has requested be extradited back to answer to the charges. The vast majority of misdemeanor warrants are not in this database, meaning those individuals are not flagged. FTAP would have access to local databases to identify and deny those persons. Under HB 423, firearms dealers who suspect a straw purchase has or is occurring would be able to notify SBI using the same hotline that would be established for background checks through FTAP. The new FTAP system would be required to be up and running within one year of the bill’s signing into law.
|House Bill 423 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Mitchell, Bennett, Matthews, K.Williams, Bentz, Carson, Chukwuocha, Cooke, Heffernan, Collins, D.Short, M.Smith||House Passes 41-0. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Friel Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick|
|Sokola, Ennis, Lockman, Hansen, Mantzavinos, Poore, Walsh, Hocker, Lawson, Pettyjohn, Wilson||Senate Passes 21-0. Brown Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh Bonini Hocker Lawson Lopez Pettyjohn Richardson Wilson|
|Current Status:||Sent to the Governor.|
“Thorough and complete background checks are still one of the best ways to ensure that people who should not possess firearms are not able to obtain them,” Rep. Larry Mitchell said. “A national system can have gaps that potentially problematic buyers could slip through. Re-establishing FTAP will help us identify people who would otherwise be prohibited but NICS might have missed, such as a person convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense. It will make our background check system stronger and more thorough and provide more protection for residents.”
“Today was a victory for the vast majority of Delawareans who demanded to see their elected officials take action on strong public safety legislation in the wake of this latest round of horrifying mass shootings,” Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Sokola said. “I’m incredibly proud of my Caucus for fulfilling the promises they made on the campaign trail and I’m grateful to my colleagues in the House for working through some minor disagreements on the finer points of some bills with grace and understanding. By putting aside our differences and agreeing to work in the best interests of Delawareans, we were able to make incredible progress today on protecting the safety of our children and our communities.”
“When it comes to gun safety laws, the facts are clear: background checks and other common sense policies like raising the age limit for most firearm purchases will reduce gun deaths in our state. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to send these bills to Governor John Carney’s desk.”