Delaware hasn’t historically been that bad for gun laws, especially for a state in the northeastern United States. While it’s not exactly ideal – it’s technically a may-issue state that acts as shall-issue – it’s generally not bad.
Or, more accurately, it wasn’t.
Now, the governor has signed a number of gun control bills into law that changes a lot of that.
Gov. John Carney signed six gun safety bills June 30 that included prohibiting possession of assault-style firearms, placing age limits on gun purchases, and allowing gun stores and gun manufacturers to be sued.
“This legislation is about providing sensible gun safety legislation with the context of Second Amendment rights,” Carney said during a signing event at Legislative Hall.
House Bill 451, sponsored by Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, and Sen. David Sokola, D-Newark, increases to 21 the age of a person to whom another person can sell or transfer a long gun or ammunition for a firearm. Federal law requires a buyer to be at least 21 years old for all handgun purchases, but only 18 years old for long guns, including rifles and shotguns. State law had mirrored those federal requirements.
It’s funny that Carney mentions the Second Amendment, particularly since he signed this on Thursday, just days after the Bruen decision came out.
After all, there’s a case to be made that none of these measures will survive a judicial challenge in the post-Bruen world.
First, let’s talk about the gun industry liability. I covered that earlier this week.
But what about age requirements to buy long guns?
Let’s remember that Bruen established a test for whether a gun control law is constitutional or not. This “text or history” standard means that one has to look to the time of the founding to determine if such a law was in keeping with the Founders’ understanding of the right to keep and bear arms.
Now, with that in mind, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that supports keeping lawful adults from purchasing firearms.
If 18-year-olds are considered too young to be treated as actual adults, then raise the age of the majority so that they’re not legally considered adults. Unless you’re willing to do that, don’t tell me you think these folks can’t be trusted with firearms.
Next, we have the assault weapon ban, and since the Supreme Court already kicked a case on these back to the lower court following Bruen, we kind of already know where the Court stands on this issue.
As such, it really looks like there’s a strong case to be made that every law Delaware just got will likely be shot down by the courts as the inevitable challenges begin.
Now, I can give the Delaware legislature a little bit of slack on this – the decision wasn’t public when they passed these bills, but Carney knew about it. He just didn’t care.
And that is one of the big problems we’re going to have in the post-Bruen world. We can hope Delaware provides an object lesson to other states going forward, though. At least then, maybe, we won’t have to see this brand of stupid much longer.