Delaware looks to mandate training, permits to buy handguns

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File

The states of the Northeast often are less likely to support the Second Amendment than many other parts of the nation.

As such, we shouldn’t be surprised that Delaware is considering further restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms for the residents of the state.


But man, this one is really bad.

The bill under consideration in the General Assembly would mandate all licensed firearm dealers and unlicensed sellers to require prospective buyers to first present a valid permit. To obtain a permit, people would need to get fingerprinted by the state and take an approved course in handgun safety and storage that includes the firing of 100 rounds. The purchase permit would be valid for six months.

Gun owners who already have a concealed carry permit would not have to get a permit because they have already received training and been vetted by the state. Qualified current and retired law enforcement officers also would be exempted.

Currently, to purchase a gun from a licensed dealer in Delaware, a buyer must present their driver’s license or state identification card, then fill out a form in person and wait while a background check is conducted. The whole process can be done in a half-hour.

The permit-to-purchase bill isn’t new for Delaware. A similar version sailed through the state Senate two years ago but stalled in the House. And last year, when lawmakers and the Carney administration passed a gun control package that banned assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, raised the age to buy a handgun from 18 to 21, and expanded background checks, the measure to require a permit was left on the sidelines.

While this story starts with a supposedly pro-gun person saying they think permit-to-purchase requirements are great, the truth is that they’re not. Not at all.


For one thing, this is a constitutionally protected right we’re talking about here. We don’t tolerate restrictions on our rights and for good reason.

As the Second Amendment Foundation has noted, the training requirement is tantamount to literacy-to-vote requirements in the Jim Crow-era South, and all the associated fees are little more than a new flavor of poll tax.

They don’t benefit the community, they just make it harder for law-abiding citizens to get a handgun. In particular, they rob poorer people in Delaware of their right to keep and bear arms as many would be unable to afford the training class, the fee, then the firearm itself. Especially with a window of six months.

Further, it should be remembered that criminals aren’t buying firearms at the local gun store. They’re getting them either through theft of purchase on the black market.

While I think everyone should get training, mandating it is problematic.

If Delaware is worried that people may buy guns without training, why not go the route Iowa is considering and put training in public school classrooms? Then, everyone gets trained, no one has to fork out money for a class in addition to the gun, and everything is covered.

Just an idea.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member