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Delaware: NRA-Backed Bill Passes the State House, While Consideration of Two Anti-Gun Bills Stalled

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Earlier today, Senate Bill 39 was temporarily tabled in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  This legislation, would ban all private sales at gun shows in Delaware in an attempt to close the mythical “gun show loophole.”  Yesterday in the state House of Representatives two Second Amendment-related bills were considered, with House Bill 48 passing and House Bill 46 being tabled. 

Senate Bill 39, although introduced by state Senator Harris McDowell (D-1), is part of Governor Jack Markell’s anti-gun agenda and a perfect example of a misguided effort that will only hurt law-abiding gun owners.  This legislation would do nothing to combat crime as criminals would continue to procure firearms illegally, while everyday residents would be faced with another unnecessary hurdle in exercising their Second Amendment rights.  According to government affairs studies, only one to two percent of firearms misused by criminals came from gun shows.

House Bill 48 was passed by a 39 to 1 vote and will now be sent to the state Senate for committee assignment.  Sponsored by state Representative Valarie Longhurst (D-15), HB 48 would require the state to provide mental health information to the NICS database if the individual as a result of a mental health adjudication is prohibited from possessing a firearm. HB 48 would also provide a relief-from-disabilities process that would allow an individual to restore their firearm rights.

In addition to conforming Delaware law to the NICS Improvement Amendment Act passed by Congress in 2007, House Bill 48 will also repeal Delaware’s Instant Check system for firearm purchases and move all background checks to the National Instant Check (NICS). NICS took effect in 1998 thereby rendering Delaware’s Instant Check obsolete and redundant for Delaware's firearm purchasers and taxpayers.

House Bill 46 was tabled after the adoption of an amendment viewed unfavorable by the bill’s sponsor, however this legislation is still alive and could actually come up again as early as tomorrow.  Sponsored by state Representative Dennis P. Williams (D-1), HB 46 would amend the current law and permit law enforcement to dispose of any firearm and ammunition seized if not claimed within sixty days of a certified letter sent to one’s last known address. This legislation was amended on the state House floor yesterday to provide the owner of the seized firearm due process, should their initial claim be denied by law enforcement. It would establish a procedure under which they could petition the court for the return of their lawful property prior to its permanent disposal. 

The clear absence of this basic right and the tabling of this legislation by its sponsor after the amendments adoption, made it clear that the true intent of this bill is to simply destroy as many firearms as possible and in no way combat crime.  While the NRA supported the adoption of this amendment, we still oppose HB 46.

Please continue contacting your state Senator TODAY and respectfully urge him or her to OPPOSE Senate Bill 39.  Also, please contact your state Representative and continue to urge him or her to OPPOSE any version House Bill 46.  To locate your state legislators and their contact information, please click here.

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