The Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security announced that it will be hosting several opportunities for Delawareans to register their assault weapons.
There will be three dates, each from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., for people from each county to get a certificate, including on May 27 at the Delaware State Police Troop 2 building in New Castle County, on June 3 at the Delaware State Police Troop 7 building in Sussex County, and on June 10 at the Delaware State Police State Bureau of Identification in Kent County.
Jeff Hague, president of the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, said he doesn’t understand why it’s taken the DSHS so long to start issuing certificates.
“I’m a little disappointed that it’s taken them 48 weeks to do something that the law said had to be done within one year, only giving people one year to do this,” Hague said. “Homeland Security has waited until less than just about a month left before they did anything. That’s disappointing.”
People will not need to pay for the certificate and will still be able to get a certificate even if they can’t go to any of the listed dates.
It is unclear, however, where people can go to get a certificate after the listed dates or what will happen if someone doesn’t have a certificate for an assault weapon after June 30, 2023.
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Hague said the certification process should have gone through a public comment period because of the changes it makes.
“So if you’re establishing a rule or procedure, that’s a regulation,” Hague said. “By definition, that’s why I say that I believe it should have gone through to the Administrative Procedures Act for public comment to let people know what’s going on.”
To get a certificate, people must present a valid Delaware driver’s license, Delaware identification card, or U.S. passport, and a bill of sale proving the firearm was purchased before June 30, 2022. For inherited weapons, documents like a will have to be provided.
Hague said that it may be difficult for some people to produce a record that they purchased a certain firearm.
“Well, one of the questions that’s been raised by legislators and myself is if people purchased one of these banned weapons 40 years ago, do you still have the receipt…if you look at some of the firearms that are banned on this list, they’ve been around since the 1960s or even prior to that,” Hague said. “So I mean, people could have purchased them when they were first offered for sale.”
While residents must bring the weapons they’re looking to get a certificate with them, the weapon must be unloaded and left secured in their vehicles, with people entering the buildings unarmed.
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According to the bill the legislature passed last year, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security won’t keep copies of the certificate or other identifying information on people who get a certificate of possession.
Despite that, Hague said people will still be reluctant to show up because of the possibility that they could be tracked.
“You’re gonna be on camera when you go into the State Police Troop? They’re gonna know you were there,” Hague said. “So people are gonna be reluctant because they’re hesitant about the government keeping records…they’re gonna know you were there, they’re gonna know why you were there, therefore that’s a registry.”
The certification process is part of a law passed last year by the legislature, House Bill 450, banning the sale and possession of a whole host of assault weapons, along with high capacity magazines.
The Sportsmen’s Association is suing the state over the assault weapon ban.
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