The question is, just how many people will comply?
As part of the ban on the sale of modern sporting rifles enacted last year (a law that’s currently being challenged in federal court), Delaware gun owners who possess one or more of the now prohibited firearms are able to apply for an “Assault Weapon Certificate of Possession”. If police catch you with a banned gun and you can’t provide “conclusive evidence” that you purchased and possessed the firearm before June 30, 2022 you can be charged with a felony, and the certificate is considered evidence enough to allow you to keep your rifle… at least until lawmakers undo the grandfather clause and demand gun owners hand ’em over.
It’s not quite a formal gun registration scheme, but that’s clearly the intent of the possession certificate. Even the anti-gunners will admit that much.
Director of Delaware’s Coalition Against Gun Violence, Traci Murphy, emphasized the importance of responsible gun ownership.
“People who already own this style of firearm were grandfathered into the process, but we have to find a way to be sure that there is accountability for that,” Murphy said.
She argues the program is necessary to maintain safety.
“There are a lot of folks who disagree with the process and the way that this is happening, but the bottom line is that gun violence remains the leading cause of death for children in our country, and parents won’t stand for it any longer.”
A statistic that is only true if you include 18-and-19-year-olds in the equation. It’s also true that drug overdoses are the leading cause of deaths for adults between the ages of 18 and 45, despite the fact that substances like fentanyl, heroin, and meth are completely prohibited by law. Banning something doesn’t make it go away, and that’s true of drugs that have been illegal for years or newly-banned modern sporting rifles.
So how many owners of those prohibited weapons are going to get their certificate? I’m guessing not many.
Mitch Denham, President of Delaware Gun Rights, questions the logic behind letting the government know about their firearms.
“It just seems a little counterintuitive to people that are in the Second Amendment crowd that we would let the government know what exactly it is that we have and where to find it. That doesn’t sound like a good tactical advantage if we are ever in a situation that the government becomes so tyrannical that we need to save ourselves from it,” he said.
The Department of Homeland Security assures applicants that no records will be maintained regarding who receives a certificate.
Really? What happens if someone were to lose their certificate, or falsify one? No way to check? If so, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of government not creating a paper trail when it easily could.
The two lawsuits taking on Delaware’s gun ban (Gray v. Jennings and DSSA v. DSHS) are currently in the Third Circuit on appeal of a district judge’s decision not to grant an injunction against the law’s enforcement, and it’s unlikely that gun owners are going to get any relief from the courts in the immediate future. Will that lead to more of them getting their government-provided proof of purchase? I doubt it. As we’ve seen previously in states like New Jersey and New York, when the state tells gun owners they have to start registering their guns or handing over their magazines, noncompliance is the order of the day. Given that Delaware’s law doesn’t mandate gun owners get a certificate of possession, merely suggests it, my guess is that the vast majority of MSR owners are going to keep up the status quo despite the change to state law.