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Politics & Government

Some lawmakers want to remove concealed carry permit requirement

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Roman Battaglia
/
Delaware Public Media

Republican state lawmakers are seeking to relax gun laws in Delaware.

Delaware currently allows any gun owner to carry their firearm out in the open, with reasonable limits, but those wishing to conceal carry must apply for a permit.

Senate Bill 172, introduced by State Sen. Dave Lawson (R-Cheswold), would bring the First State in line with around 18 other states and remove the permit requirement for concealed carry.

In the bill’s committee hearing Wednesday, some experts pointed out the non-violent nature of permit holders in the state, and say the financial barriers to getting a permit can prevent low-income people from obtaining a firearm.

But State Sen. Sarah McBride (D-Claymont) notes the data showing permit holders are less violent supports the system rather than advocates for its removal.

“I think that’s precisely an argument for the effectiveness of the permit process,” she says. “That it’s ensuring that those who are carrying a concealed weapon are more law-abiding and less violent.”

Dozens of Delawareans spoke at the committee hearing, most in support of the legislation. Many comments covered the high cost to obtain a concealed carry permit, and individuals need to defend themselves — especially in the absence of police.

Lawson says it’s important to give people the ability to defend themselves while they wait for police to arrive.

“I’ve been on both ends of that; calling for and responding,” says Lawson. “And it is heartbreaking when you can’t get there when someone needs you — where if they had had the capability of defending themselves, they wouldn’t be waiting in anguish for a lifetime. 17 minutes is a lifetime when your life is in danger.”

Some members of the public, including gun owners themselves, questioned what it would mean if anyone could carry a concealed weapon, including the 4 percent denied a permit under the current system.

This bill comes in opposition to a series of gun control reforms from Democrats, including a permit to purchase bill being considered this session.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.