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Age to purchase gun bill heads to Gov. Carney

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

State Senate lawmakers vote to increase the minimum age to purchase and possess most firearms to 21, passing another pillar of state Democratic leaders’ gun safety package.

The bill moved forward with an amendment pushing the effective date for possessing – but not purchasing – firearms back by three years. The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. David Sokola (D-Newark), says it is necessary to avoid placing Delawareans between 18 and 21 years old who currently own guns at risk of criminal charges.

“We aren’t taking anyone’s guns, and yet without this amendment, someone between 18 and 21 who currently lawfully possesses one of the firearms you would be unable to purchase the day after this bill is signed into law could become a felon," said Sokola. "And that was not our intention, so we work very hard to see if we could address that."

The amendment also allows those under 18 to possess firearms under the supervision of someone 21 or older, though that sunsets in 3 years.

State Sen. Stephanie Hansen (D-Middletown) notes she and other Democrats are willing to work with their Republican counterparts to track whether the restrictions require revisiting in the future.

The amended bill passed in the House later Tuesday afternoon. It now heads to Gov. John Carney, who has indicated he’ll sign the legislation.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.