Firearm dealers Delaware gun laws permit

26 amendments later, permit to purchase bill goes to Carney

Jarek RutzGovernment, Headlines

Firearm dealers Delaware gun laws permit

A bill that would require Delaware residents to have firearm training and pay for a permit before buying a handgun will head to Gov. John Carney for his signature after passing the Senate Thursday.

After 26 proposed amendments and about nine hours of discussion, the permit to purchase bill has passed both the House and Senate and is on its way to Gov. John Carney for signature to become law.

Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 2, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, D-Wilmington, would require most Delawareans to obtain a permit to purchase a handgun only if they have completed an approved firearm training course in the last five years.

Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth Lockman, D-Wilmington,

Elizabeth “Tizzy’ Lockman

It would exempt qualified active and retired law enforcement officers and anyone permitted by the state to carry a concealed weapon from that requirement because they already would have been required to complete a firearm training course.

It comes with a multi-million price tag in a year the budget minders are warning the legislature to take it easy because of the leveling off of revenues.

The fiscal note with the bill says costs will range from about $3 million in 2025 to $4.6 million in 2027. The fiscal notes only detail three years.

Chipping away at gun control issues has been a focal point for Democrats in the last eight years.

Roughly 600 Delawareans have been killed by gun violence since 2019, and almost every gun used in a crime was at one time purchased legally, they say.

The Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association vowed before the bill ever hit the Senate the first time to take it to court.

As the Senate was starting, it posted on its Facebook page “The good guys in the Senate have amendments placed with the bill. Let’s see if they can lessen the sting while we litigate. Maybe some of the Dems in the Senate will wake up to the loser that this bill is.”

It included a list of the amendments.


In Thursday’s Senate hearing, all the proposed amendments came from Republicans and all of which were rejected.

“Our caucus offered 13 amendments during the discussion, all of which were deemed “unfriendly” by the Senate majority,” the Senate Republican leadership said in a statement Thursday evening. These amendments included language that would clarify no firearm registry could be implemented, require prompt issuance of a permit if certain criteria were met, allow for a longer period in which individuals could acquire legal counsel should a permit be denied, and more.

“We are disappointed that none of the common sense amendments presented passed.  We are confident, however, whether the legislation was further amended today or not, the judicial system will find the permit to purchase law unconstitutional.”

House Republicans also weren’t thrilled.

“This is a deeply flawed piece of legislation,” said Joe Fulgham, director of Policy & Communications for the House of Representatives Republican Caucus. “Not only do recent federal court decisions strongly indicate it is unconstitutional, but the bill contains unaddressed errors and shortcomings.

“This has become a pattern of a General Assembly controlled by one party, enacting legislation the majority knows is unsound but being too preoccupied with the need to declare victory than taking accountability for the consequences of their actions.”

RELATED: Handgun permit, training bill returns to Senate for vote on changes

The four amendments to the bill that were passed came courtesy of the House last week.

Eleven amendments to the bill were heard on the House floor last week, with the House voting to approve three amendments sponsored by House Majority Leader Melissa Minor-Brown, D-New Castle, and one sponsored by Rep. Jeffrey Spiegelman, R-Clayton. 

  • House Amendment 2 (Minor-Brown) extends the length of time a permit is valid from one year to two, allows local law enforcement agencies to ensure the surrender or removal of handguns purchased with a revoked permit, and removes the training course voucher program.
  • House Amendment 6 (Spiegelman) would reduce the cost of the required training program and exempt already trained professionals and individuals from the required course. 
  • House Amendment 10 (Minor-Brown) details what information may be retained by the State Bureau of Identification and exempts application information from the Freedom of Information Act.
  • House Amendment 11 (Minor-Brown) requires that a person whose job training requires firearm training is exempt from repeating it for the permit.

Permit amendments

Richard Puffer, chief clerk for the Delaware House of Representatives, said in recent memory, only Senate Bill 320, which dealt with voting rights and signed into law in 2022, had more, with 27. 

Under SB 2, the firearms training course must consist of at least all of the following:

  • Instruction regarding knowledge and safe handling of firearms.
  • Instruction regarding safe storage of firearms and child safety.
  • Instruction regarding knowledge and safe handling of ammunition.
  • Instruction regarding safe storage of ammunition and child safety.
  • Instruction regarding safe firearms shooting fundamentals.
  • Live fire shooting exercises conducted on a range, including the expenditure of a minimum of 100 rounds of ammunition.
  • Identification of ways to develop and maintain firearm shooting skills.
  • Instruction regarding federal and state laws pertaining to the lawful purchase, ownership, transportation, use, and possession of firearms.
  • Instruction regarding the laws of this State pertaining to the use of deadly force.
  • Instruction regarding techniques for avoiding a criminal attack and how to manage a violent confrontation, including conflict resolution.
  • Instruction regarding suicide prevention.

The main talking point for Senate Republicans was continuing to ask in a variety of ways if the bill is constitutional. 

Sen. Eric Bucksonpermit

Sen. Eric Buckson

Mark Cutrona, director of the Delaware Division of Research, repeatedly confirmed that in his opinion it is constitutional and indicated his belief that Delaware courts would rule the same.

Sen. Eric Buckson, R-Dover, acknowledged that both sides of the aisle would like to see gun violence go down, especially with the rising number of incidents in recent years.

But, he said, legislators are tasked with upholding the constitution and he believes SB 2 will violate the state constitution.

The bill orders the State Bureau of Identification within the Division of State Police to issue a handgun qualified purchaser permit to all of the following:

  • A person not disqualified for the reasons listed above
  • A person who the director determines to be a qualified law-enforcement officer. Or a qualified retired law-enforcement officer.

Sen. Dave Lawson, R- Marydel, pointed out that officers go through gun training on a yearly basis.

Carney expressed support for the bill in his State of the State address.

On Thursday, he said, the state had made progress on its promise to keep communities safe.

“Passing this piece of legislation is another important step,” he said in a press release. “I want to thank the members of the Delaware Senate and Delaware House of Representatives for their leadership on this issue, along with the advocates who have supported gun safety efforts in our state. I look forward to signing this bill into law.”

Lockman pointed out that the bill finally passed after five years of debate, four versions, funding allotted twice in Carney’s recommended budgets and the 26 proposed amendments.

“While this bill alone may not have prevented every senseless gun death,” she said, “the training required by Senate Bill 2 will give Delawareans struggling with mental health a second chance to find the help they need.”

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