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State Senate passes two gun safety bills

Tom Byrne
Delaware Public Media

State lawmakers debated legislation restricting access to firearms and high capacity magazines Thursday.


The two gun safety bills were front and center in the State Senate’s last session before Easter break.


A bill to create a permitting process to purchase guns was approved 13-8, with Democrat Bruce Ennis (D-Smyrna) joining the chamber’s 7 Republicans in opposing it.


Republican Senators claim the bill infringes on Second Amendment rights and can prevent domestic violence victims from quickly obtaining a gun to defend themselves.


But those claims were rebuffed by Democrats, including State Sen. Kyle Evans Gay (D-Brandywine Hundered).


“I would ask how many women have to die by gunshot wounds in the name of arming women to protect themselves," said Gay. "Instances when women use a handgun against an attacker are actually exceedingly rare.”


Senators also passed the bill banning high capacity magazines in an identical 13-8 vote. Opponents argue that measure is also unconstitutional.


State Sen. Sarah McBride (D-Claymont) says these bills made it this far because of who voters are now sending to the General Assembly.


“We each ran on a platform supporting common sense gun reform, and the voters responded to that," said McBride. "Over the last two elections the majority in this chamber in support of these reforms has consistently grown.”


But Republican senators pushed back on the notion that the 2020 election was a referendum, and say they’ve heard from many constituents, Democrats and Republicans, who oppose the bills.


Republicans also garnered support from Ennis, who says the money used on these bills would be better put towards directly fighting crime and gang violence.


Senate Republicans say gun rights advocates are already preparing to mount a constitutional challenge to both bills in court, even before they have been considered in the House.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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