Biden's home-state Democrats target firearms industry, under-21 gun buyers

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Delaware has a reputation for being pro-business thanks to its tax laws, but the latest gun control bill approved by legislatures is downright hostile to one sector of the economy: the firearms industry.

Democrats in Joe Biden’s home state approved several gun control measures on Tuesday, including one bill that allows residents to sue gun makers for violating the state’s public nuisance laws. Similar laws have recently been approved in New York and California with the intention of doing an end run around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act; a 2005 law approved on a bipartisan vote in Congress that was designed to prevent junk lawsuits from being filed against gun companies seeking to hold them accountable for the actions of criminals.

The second bill approved by the General Assembly targets gun buyers and not gun makers; barring adults under the age of 21 from purchasing or possessing firearms, with only limited exceptions.

HB 451 would bar anyone under 21 from purchasing, owning, possessing, or controlling a firearm or ammunition of a firearm.

Sen. David Sokola, D-Newark, said this bill is directly addressing the recent epidemic of shootings.

It was proposed after the May 24 school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, killed  19 children dead in third-deadliest school shooting in the nation’s history.

“You somehow can walk into a sporting goods store on your 18th birthday in Delaware and purchase a far more powerful weapon capable of far greater bloodshed than a handgun,” said Sokola. “This does not make sense. Six of the nine deadliest mass shootings in the United States since 2018 have been perpetrated by people who are 21 or younger.”

The original bill failed, but after introducing an amendment that would permit a child under 18 years of age to possess a firearm under the direct supervision of a person 21 years of age or older, it passed.

It was sent to the House with the amendment, was voted through there and now will head to Carney.

“Just three years ago, Republicans and Democrats came together to raise the legal age of tobacco products from 18 to 21,” said Sokola. “At least tobacco takes years to kill you. We don’t have that kind of time with guns.”

No, you don’t have that kind of power when it comes to guns. Challenges to similar bans on gun purchases and possession by adults under the age of 21 are already underway in Florida and California, where the Ninth Circuit recently ruled that the Golden State’s ban on under-21s purchasing so-called assault weapons violates their Second Amendment rights, and I suspect a similar challenge will be filed in Delaware before the ink from Gov. John Carney’s pen has dried on the bill he signs into law.

The vast majority of guns (and the vast majority of gun owners) will never be involved in a crime, regardless of the age of the owner, and if Delaware Democrats want to reduce violent crime they should be looking at violent offenders and not legal gun owners. As it stands, Joe Biden’s home-state colleagues have once again demonstrated where their priorities truly lie: obliterating the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms in self-defense while refusing to get tougher on those who actually use a firearm to aid in their violent crimes.