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Permit to purchase gun bill clears House committee

Delaware Public Media

Permit to purchase a handgun legislation that already passed in the State Senate now goes to the full House.


The bill creating a permitting process to purchase handguns was released by the House Judiciary Committee after almost 4 hours of testimony, public comment, and debate on both sides of the issue.

The bill’s sponsor State Rep. Sherry Dorsey Walker (D-Wilmington) argues it would help stop crime.

"A state permitting process provides another level of safety beyond the federal background check by giving local police officers an opportunity to determine if local Delaware residents are legally allowed to own a firearm here in the state," said Dorey Walker.

She explains how else it would help police. 

"The system gives trained local law enforcement opportunities to see applicants face-to-face which gives them more chances to recognize a person under extreme duress or someone who was experiencing mental health issues," she said.

Attorney General Kathy Jennings testified for the bill saying similar legislation passed in red and blue states. She argues it would help reduce homicides and suicides by handgun in the state.

State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman (R-Clayton) says he’s concerned about the part of the bill that says concealed carry permit holders in Delaware are excluded from the national instant criminal background check system.

"That raises a major concern here because I know for a fact that that is right there federally illegal," said Spiegelman.

State Rep. Jesse Vanderwende (R-Bridgeville/Greenwood) says if passed it would create a logjam in training classes.

"I'm looking at last year, I think there's almost 43,000 handguns purchased in the state," said Vanderwende. "What kind of backlog and what kind of I hate to use the word infringement, but infringement this may have on if this bill were to pass getting these people the classes that they're now required to do."

Captain Darren Short with the State Bureau of Investigation said if passed they would have to hire more people, potentially adding four million more dollars in its budget - at least initially.

Republicans also claim the bill can prevent domestic violence victims from obtaining a gun to defend themselves. 

The bill was released from committee in a party-line vote.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
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