After hourslong hearing, Delaware handgun permit bill advances

Members of a House committee heard from nearly 100 supporters and opponents before voting forward a measure to require training and a permit to purchase a handgun.

Delaware State House

Delaware State House (Google Maps)

Cara Cordrey’s son was inside Smyrna Middle School last month when a woman was shot dead in an apparent domestic violence incident in the school’s parking lot. The alleged shooter was captured in Maryland and pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Cordrey described the fear she and her family experienced as the incident unfolded to members of the State House Judiciary Committee during a hearing on the bill that would require training and a permit before purchasing a handgun.

“The senseless gun violence epidemic is out of control in Delaware. It is not just Wilmington or Dover,” she said. “The time for discussion and debate is over. The time for action is past due.”

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Brint Shafer of Magnolia, who says he bought his first gun in 1957, agreed.

“I like guns, I like shooting and I like supporting local gun stores. What I do not like is seeing people die through careless, criminal, or suicidal gun violence,” he said. “Most gun-owners secure our guns to keep them out of the hands of children, criminals, or the mentally and emotionally unstable. Now we need help from the state on the purchasing side to make sure guns are purchased by people who respect them, know how to use them, and are capable of responsible gun ownership.”

The four-hour long online hearing drew more than 350 people, with nearly 100 people speaking for or against the bill.

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Sherry Long was one of many to oppose the measure. She told committee members if the wait time to get a permit under this bill is anything like her nearly six-month wait she’s experienced for a concealed carry permit, it would violate the Second Amendment.

“That gives me cause for concern that this state is not equipped, no matter what our AG says, in order to make sure the people can have a right [to gun ownership],” she said. “There is not the ability within this state to give the people their right.”

Brent Burdge of Wilmington echoed the concerns about the delay the bill could create by forcing residents to sign up for a training class.

“I strongly object to Senate Bill 3 as a clear infringement on my right to purchase and own a firearm,” he said. “The training, fingerprinting, and redundant background checks effectively delay the purchase of a handgun by 30 days or more. A right delayed is a right denied.”

The bill was approved by the committee in a 6-4 vote.

Last month, the Senate approved the measure 13-8, with just one Democrat joining the chamber’s seven Republicans in voting against it.

A separate bill, that would limit the size of gun magazines to no more than 17 rounds, also passed the Senate in a similar vote. It was approved by the House Judiciary Committee late last month and is now awaiting action on the House floor.

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