Delaware Democrats approve gun control bills, vow more action to come

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

Democrats in Joe Biden’s stomping grounds have taken aim at legal gun owners once again, with the state Senate approving several gun control measures in the final hours of this year’s session. Because the House never had a chance to vote on these proposals they won’t take effect yet, but lawmakers are already vowing to make them a top priority when the 2024 session kicks off in January.


Among the proposed restrictions; a “permit-to-purchase” law that would subject every would be gun buyer in the state to mandatory training before they could lawfully keep a gun in their home, much less carry it on their person.

Introduced by Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman in April and passed by the Senate in May, Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 2 would add Delaware to a growing list of states that require residents to complete a firearm training course and obtain a permit before purchasing a handgun, the weapon most often used in Delaware gun deaths, according to officals.Governor Carney says SS-1 to SB-2 will be one of his office’s priorities in 2024.“There is nothing more important than keeping our communities safe,” Governor Carneysaid. “We continue to make progress here in Delaware around gun safety. I look forward to working with the General Assembly to pass and sign Senate Bill 2 into law in January.”

Speaker Longhurst also agreed to move SS-1 for SB-2 forward next year.

“For the past decade, we have passed some of the most comprehensive gun safety laws in the country, making Delaware a leader by strengthening our background checks, closing loopholes, banning assault-style firearms and large-capacity magazines, and instituting red flag laws. I’ve been proud to sponsor many of these bills and stand up to the gun lobby,” Longhurst said. “I am committed to spending these next few months working with the Senate and governor’s office to pass permit to purchase when we return to session in January. This bill is the next piece of the puzzle to keeping our communities safe, and I’m looking forward to passing it into law.”


And despite the passage of all those gun control laws, Democrats in Delaware insist that even more restrictions on legal gun ownership are necessary. In addition to the bills that didn’t receive final approval in the first year of the two-year session, anti-gunners did manage to get a couple of other pieces of legislation to the governor’s desk.

Introduced in June, House Bill 201 would help those tasked with protecting our students to act immediately when they see or suspect a person is carrying a firearm in a safe school zone, which includes any building, athletic field, sports stadium or real property owned by a K-12 public school.

Law enforcement officers, constables and other select public officials acting in their official capacity within that zone also would be exempt.

“Deadly weapons have no place in our schools,” said Sen Sarah McBride, the Senate prime sponsor of HB 201. “It is simply unimaginable that someone could carry a rifle into a school and there is nothing a police officer could do until they open fire. This legislation will reduce the reaction time of school officials and law enforcement officers in the critical seconds before a tragedy begins, and ultimately, save lives.”

The Senate also passed House Bill 202, legislation introduced by Rep. Cyndie Romer in June that bars all firearms at active polling places unless carried by a law enforcement officer, commissioned security guard, constable or active-duty member of the military who is acting in their official capacity.

HB-202 would apply to any in-person election, including general, primary and special elections, local school elections, municipal elections and locations designated for early voting.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in voter intimidation tactics across the country in recent election cycles with armed ‘election integrity’ vigilantes camped outside of polling sites,” said Sen. Sokola, the Senate prime sponsor of HB 202. “Bringing a gun to a polling place does not increase election security. It threatens voters and significantly increases the chance of a deadly confrontation.”


HB 201 is going to trip up more concealed carry holders who might have their gun on them when they’re picking up their kids in the drive-thru lane at school than it will thwart acts of violence on a school campus. As long as the concealed carry holder remains in their vehicle they be in compliance with the law, but if they step outside their car to help their kid with their seatbelt or to put their child’s backpack in the trunk they’ll be committing a felony offense.

Barring firearms from polling places may be allowed according to the Supreme Court’s dicta in Bruen, but this seems to be a solution in search of a problem. Are there rampant acts of violence at polling places in the state? More importantly, does anyone think for a moment that someone intent on carrying out an act of political violence against voters is going to be stymied because they’re not allowed to bring a gun inside of a polling location?

Delaware Democrats could have directed their legislative firepower at violent offenders, but chose instead to once again crack down on legal gun owners, and this is just a preview of what’s in store come January. While states like North Carolina are repealing their Jim Crow-era pistol purchase permit statutes, Delaware’s looking to go backwards and enshrine that discriminatory policy into law. If and when they do, we know the anti-gunners won’t be satisfied, and it won’t be long before they claim that even more needs to be done to restrict our Second Amendment rights in the name of public safety.


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