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Ghost gun bill passes State Senate, heads to Gov. Carney

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

Lawmakers passed one of the bills restricting access to guns Tuesday.


Ghost guns are a type of untraceable firearm that can be 3D printed, pass through metal detectors, and used by criminals.


State Rep. Valerie Longhurst’s (D-Bear) bill criminalizes possession of guns without a serial number, banning guns built by hobbyists and criminals.


Senate sponsor Nicole Poore (D-New Castle) says this bill closes a loophole to help prevent shootings in the state.


“And the whole realization of us doing this legislation was for us to be proactive — again, keeping the opportunity of these types of guns out of the hands of people that can’t go to a dealer and purchase it,” Poore said.


Poore says the bill also benefits gun stores in the state, who may lose out on revenue from people choosing to build their own gun instead of purchasing it from a store.


Senate Republicans introduced an amendment identical to one that failed in the House.


State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn (R-Georgetown) says it would have given hobbyists a window to go through the background check process and get a serial number for their guns to avoid having to turn them in.


But Poore opposed the amendment, saying she received it only 20 minutes before session and it just creates another loophole. 


Poore says this is one chance for lawmakers to get out ahead in preventing gun deaths.


“There have been mass shootings and there have been guns that have been purchased and built through the 3D printers and they have absolutely killed people and so again, this just gives us the opportunity to be proactive,” she said.


Poore says State Police have confiscated at least 60 so-called ghost guns across the state, and this bill empowers law enforcement to go after anyone possessing one.


But the premise of a ghost gun is its ability to remain hidden. A quick search online finds distributors of files to 3D print guns at home, something that can be difficult for law enforcement to prevent.


Poore says while those designs are out there, this law is designed to give law enforcement more tools to combat their production.


Gov. Carney is expected to sign the bill and it takes effect 90 days after that happens.

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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