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Democratic state senators reintroduce controversial gun control bills

Tom Byrne
Delaware Public Media

Some Delaware lawmakers are renewing their push for more gun control laws.

The bills introduced this week seek to ban assault style weapons and large capacity magazines. Similar bills failed to receive a floor vote last year. Senate Democrats say 2018 election wins show they have public support for them.

State Sen. Dave Sokola (D-Newark) is sponsoring the legislation that would ban gun magazines with more than 15 rounds of ammunition.

Delawareans with high capacity magazines would have until June 30, 2020 to turn them in to the state. After that, possession would be a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class E felony for subsequent offenses.

State Sen. Bryan Townsend (D-Newark) said the high capacity magazine bill is a product of research and care to strike the right balance.

“It’s 15 round limit," he said. "That’s upon conversions with gun owners, understanding the prevalence of 15 round clips and smaller.”

Sokola’s bill creates a $15,000 fund for buybacks.

Townsend is sponsoring the legislation banning assault style weapons.

It would exempt firearms Delawareans possess before the bill goes into effect and allows them to get a certificate to prove ownership.

Townsend said he’s confident it would survive a court challenge.

“We have long as a broader community you know moved past this idea of you know ‘What part of this shall not be infringed do you not understand,"’ he said. "Well, I don’t know, what part of Article III courts do you you not understand? And the Supreme Court ultimately that has held measures to be constitutional.”

Gov. John Carney (D) said he supports the concepts presented in both pieces of legislation, but would need to see the final language in each bill.

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