Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman and House Majority Whip Melissa Minor-Brown have introduced a common sense gun safety bill to reduce shootings and other gun-related crimes. Senate Bill 2 would add Delaware to a growing list of states that require residents to complete a firearm training course and obtain a permit before purchasing a handgun – a measure proven to reduce homicides and suicides in other states.
Under SB 2, most Delawareans could obtain a permit to purchase a handgun if they have completed an approved firearm training course in the last five years. Qualified law enforcement officers, qualified retired law enforcement officers, and anyone permitted to carry a concealed deadly weapon by the State of Delaware would be exempt from that requirement because they already would have been required to complete a firearm training course.
After completing a training course, state residents legally eligible to purchase a handgun would then submit a permit application to the State Bureau of Identification. The Bureau would then have 30 days to fingerprint the applicant, confirm they are legally allowed to own a handgun, and issue a handgun qualified purchaser permit required at the point of sale.
The legislation includes no application fees and places no restriction on the number of handguns that could be purchased during the 180 days that a qualified purchaser permit is valid.
The Bureau would be required to notify applicants of a permit denial in writing. Anyone denied a permit would have 30 days to request a hearing before the Justice of the Peace Court, which would be required to schedule a hearing within 30 days.
Similar legislation introduced by Sen. Lockman in 2021 passed the Senate but the House killed it.
One notable change included in SB 2 is a requirement that the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security provide vouchers to cover the full cost of firearm training for anyone whose household earns less than 200% of the federal poverty guideline.
A similar permit law that was passed in Connecticut in 1995 has been associated with a 28% reduction in that state’s firearm homicide rate and a 33% decrease in its firearm suicide rate. Conversely, Missouri recorded a 47% increase in its firearm homicide rate and a 24% increase in its firearm suicide rate when its permit-to-purchase law was repealed in 2007.
Strong permit laws also have been found to help prevent gun trafficking and the diversion of guns to criminals. States with strong permit laws are associated with 76% lower rates of guns exported to criminals.
To date, at least 14 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted some form of firearm permitting law, including New York, New Jersey and Maryland. A recent survey found that 74% of registered Delaware voters support gun permit policies, regardless of geography, party affiliation or gun ownership.
SB 2 is slated to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 26.
|Senate Bill 2 – Permit to Purchase Guns||Currrent Status – Senate Judiciary 4/19/23|
|House Sponsors – Minor-Brown, Baumbach, Griffith, Romer, Morrison, Chukwuocha, Johnson, Longhurst, Neal||Senate Sponsors – Lockman, Townsend, Sturgeon, Gay, McBride, Pinkney, Sokola|
|House Yes Votes –||Senate Yes Votes –|
|House No Votes –||Senate No Votes –|
|House Absents or Not Voting –||Senate Absent or Not Voting –|
“After more than 30 children and adults were murdered in Texas and New York, the Delaware General Assembly and Governor John Carney took several historic steps last year to prevent the mass shootings that have gripped our nation for years from occurring here in the First State,” said Senator Lockman.
“What we haven’t addressed are the murders, suicides and gun crimes we see here in Delaware on an almost daily basis – the vast majority of them committed with handguns,” she said. “This legislation will help to stem the incremental bloodshed and devastation that’s already occurring in Delaware by helping to keep deadly weapons away from people intent on harming themselves and others.”
“In 2021, we heard opponents argue again and again that the training requirement would create an undue financial burden for Delawareans living in low-income communities to obtain a handgun,” Lockman said. “The legislation I introduced today settles that debate by making access to a gun safety course absolutely free for anyone struggling to get by.”
“Whenever we engage in a debate about gun safety measures, firearm advocates talk a lot about responsible gun owners. Part of being a responsible gun owner is passing the necessary background checks and understanding how to safely operate a handgun,” said Rep. Minor-Brown, the lead House sponsor. “In almost every aspect of our lives, people must undergo some version of training: to operate machinery, for medical purposes, to drive, to serve alcohol, and many other activities. Requiring people who want to buy a firearm to take a training course isn’t some undue burden; it’s basic common sense to learn how to safely load, use and store a lethal weapon, which will make both the gun owners and the public safer.”
“We’ve been fighting for this legislation for years, and it’s time to get it done,” Attorney General Kathy Jennings said. “Ample data – from peer-reviewed studies to statistics from the CDC – tell the same story: permit to purchase is the gold standard for gun safety policy. It reduces gun homicide, gun suicide, and gun trafficking by double-digits, and states with permit to purchase laws have significantly lower firearm mortality rates than those without. This bill will make our state a safer place, and I applaud Sen. Lockman and Rep. Minor-Brown for their dedication to passing it into law.”
“We applaud the Senate Democratic leadership for introducing life-saving legislation that will address daily gun violence in our communities by requiring a permit to purchase a handgun – which will include vital safety measures such as requiring firearm training and background checks,” said Mara Gorman from the Delaware chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Strong gun safety laws save lives – we stand ready to get this bill passed in both chambers and signed by Governor John Carney this legislative session.”
“Gun laws save lives,” said Traci Manza Murphy, executive director of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence. “Requiring a permit to purchase a handgun will put critical time between the impulse to use a gun and the ability to do so – and it will make it a lot harder for guns to end up in dangerous hands. We can’t pass this law soon enough.”