Federal judge uphold Delaware law regarding gun sales

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

A lot of people want to punish gun dealers for what other people do with the guns they buy. In Delaware, they passed a law allowing it.

Now, if the dealer breaks the law in selling the gun, I can see that. However, far too many just want to punish them for not being able to see the future. “You had to know that gun was going to be misused!” they say, all without any idea of just how idiotic they sound.


In Delaware, a straw buy resulted in a bystander being killed, leading to a law that seeks to strip dealers of liability protection.

And a federal judge just upheld it.

A federal judge has rejected a legal challenge to a Delaware law that allows gun dealers to be prosecuted for selling firearms used in shootings.

In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Richard G. Andrews dismissed a legal challenge by the National Shooting Sports Foundation seeking to overturn the law, signed by Gov. John Carney in 2022. The law stripped gun manufacturers and dealers of immunity from being sued in state courts for negligence.

Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings, whose office defended the state against the lawsuit, praised the ruling and criticized the group’s legal challenge as “another right-wing challenge to a commonsense gun safety law.”

“The gun lobby claims to speak for gun owners, but at day’s end its masters have always been corporate and its priority is protecting profits, full stop,” Jennings, a Democrat, said in a statement. “It is a massive giveaway to a special interest that gives the people of this state nothing in return.”

The law repealed state immunity granted to gun dealers like Cabela’s under state law, making Delaware the first state in the country to eliminate a gun industry liability shield. It requires gun sellers to maintain “reasonable controls” to prevent sales to “straw” purchasers by convicted felons, firearm traffickers and others prohibited from owning a gun from getting one.


The problem is that this is easier said than done.

See, let’s take two hypothetical straw buyers, Joe and Stan.

Joe walks into the gun store and shops around. He asks questions, handles the guns, and makes a purchase. He already knew what to get because his buddy, a convicted felon, told him what to ask for, but Joe knows what he’s doing is illegal, so he tries to play it cool.

Stan, on the other hand, isn’t that bright. He walks in with his buddy, has the buddy try stuff out, then tries to make the purchase.

Now, it’s easy to see what Stan is doing. The dealer is going to refuse to sell him the gun because it’s clear he’s buying it for his buddy.

That’s already illegal, by the way.

What Delaware did was make it so the store that sold to Joe could also be prosecuted.

I have little doubt this decision will be appealed, thus taking it up the judicial food chain. If this gets to the Supreme Court, I don’t expect Delaware to like what happens afterward.

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