State Passes Strict New Handgun Legislation

It PASSED: 23-16

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Currently, 29 states permit residents to carry firearms without needing a permit. While Conservatives have facilitated broader exercise of Second Amendment rights, Democrats have enacted measures to restrict them. This situation is exemplified in Delaware.

Delaware’s House approved a bill on March 7 mandating individuals wishing to buy a handgun to undergo fingerprinting by the State Bureau of Identification (SBI). Additionally, they would need to successfully complete a firearms training course. The SBI would conduct a 30-day investigation into permit applicants to ascertain their eligibility. The agency would indefinitely retain the applicant’s identifying information.

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The bill was sponsored by Majority Leader Melissa Minor-Brown (D). She informed reporters that states with permit laws experience a 25 percent reduction in gun homicide rates and a 50 percent decrease in gun suicide rates.

The bill was approved by lawmakers with a vote of 23-16. It had previously passed the Senate in May of last year. Republicans criticized the bill for being rushed, and they attempted to introduce amendments aimed at lessening the financial impact on potential gun purchasers and taxpayers. Analysts projected that implementing the bill would incur a cost of $3 million initially and $5 million annually for the state.

Governor John Carney (D) allocated $2.9 billion to support the permit program. Critics of the bill contended that it imposes a financial strain on law-abiding citizens seeking to exercise their state and federal constitutional rights. Ron Smith, the attorney for the Republican House, expressed his belief that the law is likely to be declared unconstitutional.

Republicans successfully secured an amendment’s approval, exempting certain individuals, such as military personnel and certified firearms instructors, from the training mandate. In response, Democrats passed another amendment to limit the extent of the GOP’s amendment.

Recently, a federal court deemed a comparable law in Maryland unconstitutional, with the case still undergoing legal proceedings. Despite this ruling, Delaware’s Democrats proceeded with the legislation, acknowledging the possibility of its invalidation.