The gun control lobby may be disappointed in the Biden administration for not pushing harder to enact its anti-2A agenda, but the folks trying to curtail our right to keep and bear arms are hoping that the legislature in Biden’s home state will give them something to cheer about this year.
The Center for American Progress is stumping for the passage of SB 3 in Delaware; a bill that would establish a permit-to-purchase that all would-be handgun owners would have to obtain from the government before being “allowed” to possess a firearm in their home.
Now, a permit-to-purchase law is bad enough, but the proposal in Delaware is particularly egregious because it requires every applicant to demonstrate proof of a completed firearms training course within the previous five years, and one that encompasses all of the following characteristics:
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 for self-defense.
Instruction regarding techniques for avoiding a criminal attack and how to manage a violent confrontation, including conflict resolution.
Instruction regarding suicide prevention.
Now, would I encourage every new gun owner to take a basic firearms course and spend time at the range so that they’re competent and comfortable with their firearm? You bet.
Do I think that they should be barred from lawfully possessing a firearm until they do? No way, because that’s not how rights work.
The dimwitted Democrats who’ve proposed this bill seem to think that Delaware residents start from a position of not being allowed to possess firearms, unless otherwise deemed worthy by the state. Not only does that run completely contrary to the U.S. Constitution, it flies in the face of the state constitution as well, which was amended in 1987 by a vote of the people to include the following:
“A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use.”
You have the right to keep a gun in your home for self-defense, as well as for hunting or recreation. Period. The state of Delaware can and should encourage gun owners regularly train with their firearm, but it cannot require that all would-be handgun owners take a multi-hour live-fire training course simply to possess a gun in their home anymore than the state could require residents to take a creative writing course before exercising their freedom of the press.
SB 3 passed the state Senate and cleared the House Judiciary committee before stalling out in the legislature last summer. Unfortunately, the bill isn’t dead yet, and anti-gun activists are clearly trying to revive its prospects before the state’s two-year legislative term expires at the end of June. If they’re successful, this would be one of the worst state-level gun control measures to be imposed outside of California (which is in a category all its own) in the last decade.
It might also end up being a perfect vehicle to challenge permit-to-purchase laws in federal court, and if I were an anti-gun Democrat I’d be thinking long and hard about the potential legal (and political) hazards of a law that so egregiously infringes on the right to keep arms.
And yes, there are some political hazards for Democrats pushing this bill, even in a state that’s reliably blue in its vote. SB 3 is going to have a disproportionate impact on lower income residents, and in Delaware black residents are twice as likely to live below the poverty line compared to white residents. These Democrats would never require voters fork over money to a private third party in order to exercise their right to vote, but they (and their allies in the gun control lobby) are just fine with disenfranchising folks from their Second Amendment rights if they can’t or won’t pony up the cash for a mandated training class that includes shooting at least 100 rounds of ammunition.
I suspect at least some Democrats are well aware of the problems with this bill, which is why the full House hasn’t voted on it yet. We still have a long way to go before we get to the end of June and sine die, however, and with the gun control lobby trying to revitalize this bill, Delaware’s active and engaged 2A community have their work cut out for them.