House Committee Releases “Permit to Purchase” Bill

Posted on 05-20-2021

MAY 14, 2021 — The House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee has released a bill seeking to require Delawareans to obtain “qualified purchaser card” before they could buy a handgun.
Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth Lockman (D-Wilmington West), would require an individual to be fingerprinted, undergo a criminal background check, and successfully complete a firearms training course to acquire a card. The permit would be valid for six months, during which holders would be able to make handgun purchases. Once the card expires, citizens would need to begin the process anew.
Supporters of the bill maintain it will help to reduce gun violence. However, a report by the state’s Criminal Justice Council Statistical Analysis Center seemingly casts some doubt on this claim.
The report, Delaware Shootings 2019, released last November, reveals that 173 shooting incidents took place in the state that year. Of the 101 unique suspects that could be connected to these shootings, 62.8% had at least one felony weapons-related arrest and 84% had previously been arrested for a violent felony. Fewer than 7% of the suspects had no arrest history in Delaware.
While the report did not include data on the conviction rates of suspects, people convicted of felony drug, weapons, and violent offenses are prohibited from legally purchasing a firearm in Delaware.
Late last month, the House Judiciary Committee approved another disputed firearms bill: the Delaware Large Capacity Magazine Prohibition Act of 2021 (Senate Bill 6). The measure seeks to bar any firearm magazine with a capacity exceeding 17 rounds of ammunition.
If Senate Bill 6 were to become law, the state would confiscate non-compliant magazines, paying citizens $10 for each magazine surrendered to authorities. Under the legislation, citizens found in possession of barred magazines would face a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class E felony for a subsequent offense.
Both bills are currently on the House Ready List and are eligible to be acted on by the chamber. Should either be approved, they will go to the governor for his consideration.