Hurry up and vote: Handgun permit bill passes through Senate

Sam Haut Government, Headlines


A handgun bill passed the Delaware Senate and makes its way to the House.

A grandstanding Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel, ripped up pieces of paper as he ripped into a bill that will require training and permits before Delawareans are allowed to buy a handgun.

“Why do we want to continue to shred our constitutions and trash them? Why do we do that? I fought my entire life to protect this constitution,” Lawson said as he tore up paper.

“And I will continue to do that. And the day you come for my guns, I would hate to see, because our citizens have the right to protect themselves. Please don’t put the citizens in this state in a box where they can’t get out.”

The Senate on Tuesday passed along party lines a bill that would require the permit and training. Now it goes to the House side of the General Assembly for a committee hearing.

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Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel

Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 2, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth Lockman, D-Wilmington, also  passed the Senate Finance committee earlier Tuesday.

The bill would require permits to be given only to a person 21 years old or older who can’t otherwise be prohibited from buying a gun and or for whom there’s probable cause the buyer could do harm to themselves or others.

They also must have completed a firearms training course within the last five years which meets certain requirements.

That training must include instructions on safe handling of firearms and ammunition, safe storage of firearms and ammunition, and child safety. 

It must also include shooting fundamentals and skills, a review of state and federal laws, self-defense and confrontation management. 

The training also must include live fire shooting exercises conducted on a range using at least 100 rounds of ammunition.

The bill allows for those making at or below 200% of the federal poverty level to be compensated in full by the state for the cost of the training courses.

The original Senate Bill 2 was passed by the Senate Judiciary committee on April 26.

The substitute bill makes the permit valid for one year instead of 180 days, says the Superior Court must hold a hearing where someone believes they wrongfully lost their permit within 15 days instead of 21 days, and extends the implementation time of the bill from a maximum of six months to a maximum of 18 months. 

Lockman said in a statement after the bill had passed that it will help to reduce gun death in Delaware.

“Senate Bill 2 is a common-sense public safety bill that will increase the level of responsible gun ownership in Delaware, while reducing the bloodshed and devastation we see here in the First State on an almost daily basis,” she said. 

Jeff Hague, president of the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, who was called as a witness by the Republicans, said that the bill would make it harder for women to buy guns, which in turn would make them less safe.

“This requirement that they go through a training class, submit to fingerprinting, a background check, and then wait for 30 days, is just an infringement that’s going to take at least three or four months before you’re able to purchase that handgun,” he said.

The Sportsmen’s Association now is suing the state over two gun bills that passed last year. One prevents the selling of AR-15s and one prevents the selling of high-capacity magazines.

Related Story: Delaware Sportsmen take aim at handgun permitting bill

Alison Shih, who is counsel for Everytown for Gun Safety, argued that women having a firearm doesn’t make them safer.

“There is no research to support the idea that women gun ownership increases their safety, regardless of whether they’re victims of domestic violence or some other crime,” Shih said. “In fact studies show the opposite, that women living in households with a firearm are at greater risk of homicide.”

Based on the fiscal note for the bill, it would cost $2,820,942 in the 2024 fiscal year from one-time and recurring costs, $7,824,282 for the 2025 fiscal year, and $7,779,736 for the 2026 fiscal year due to recurring costs.

Those costs come from hiring and retaining extra Delaware State Troopers, renting a larger building for the new hires, giving out the vouchers to low-income residents for training courses, vendor costs for filing the assumed 84,750 applications annually, and the cost of extra personnel in the courts.

The bill currently has 19 additional sponsors and cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats.

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