Delaware sets dates for compensated confiscation of magazines

Delaware sets dates for compensated confiscation of magazines
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Earlier this year Delaware Gov. Jay Carney signed several new gun control bills into law, including a ban on so-called “large capacity” magazines. Not only are the sale of new magazines prohibited to most citizens, but most existing owners are required under the new law to either permanently modify them, remove them from the state, destroy them, or hand them over to police.

A few months ago the state announced that a series of “buybacks” would be held in conjunction with the new law taking effect, and this week we learned when and where Delaware gun owners can report to the compensated confiscation events.

Those handing over magazines with a capacity between 18 and 30 rounds can receive $15 per magazine, while those with a magazine capacity of more than 31-rounds are eligible for $25 compensation. The state police will also hand out $80 for every drum magazine that’s turned in, but in order to receive any money all participants must show the police a valid Delaware state ID card or driver’s license.

The Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, with assistance from the NRA, is suing over the magazine ban in federal court, and DSSA president Jeff Hague says the ban is problematic on multiple levels.

“It’s not going to reduce the number of criminals using firearms in the commission of felonies,” Hague said. “It’s only going to affect law-abiding citizens because criminals aren’t going to turn in something that’s their livelihood to get money. Or if they do, they’re going to turn them in and get some money and then go buy another one.”

… Mitch Denham of the 23,000-member Facebook group Delaware Gun Rights is urging owners of 17-plus-round magazines to store them safely pending the outcome of the looming court challenge.

“When the lawsuits are over then maybe you can talk about what you think is right for you,’’ said Denham, who is exempted from the ban because he has a concealed carry permit.

The fact that concealed carry holders are exempted from the magazine ban doesn’t make any sense from a gun control perspective. After all, even those individuals can have their guns and magazines stolen, and if the goal is to remove these “accessories to war” from society, allowing concealed carry holders to maintain possession of their magazines and purchase additional magazines in the future is, if anything, only going to encourage more people to obtain their concealed carry license.

I think this law was written to pass political, not constitutional muster. In order to assure passage, sponsors attempted to water down the bill to make it palatable to more lawmakers; exempting concealed carry holders, setting the magazine limit at 17-rounds, and making a first violation a fine punishable by $100, for example. Those modifications haven’t mollified gun owners, and I’m curious to see what sort of historical precedents the state will cite to the courts in their attempt to uphold the law, because I’m certainly not aware of any longstanding laws like this at the time the Second or Fourteenth Amendments were ratified.

I’m even more curious to see what kind of turnout the police receive during their first compensated confiscation events, which are scheduled to take place on Wednesday, November 16th. Given that there’s a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ban and a first offense only amounts to a fine, my guess is that the vast majority of Delaware gun owners are going to hang on to what they have and the state troopers running the “buyback” are going to get more rest and relaxation than “large capacity” magazines.