Bill to ban assault-style weapons introduced in Delaware

A bill introduced in the Delaware General Assembly and supported by Gov. John Carney would ban assault-style rifles. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

A bill introduced in the Delaware General Assembly and supported by Gov. John Carney would ban assault-style rifles. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Legislators in Delaware have introduced legislation that would ban the sale, purchase and transfer of assault-style weapons in the state.

Under the bill, possession of such weapons would also be prohibited except by people who had them prior to the legislation’s passage.

The legislation, which is sure to face opposition from supporters of gun rights, is sponsored by state Sen. Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, and co-sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear.

“The status quo on gun violence isn’t working. Delaware has made important progress in recent years, but we can — and must — do more,” Townsend said in a statement.

“Military-style assault weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment. They have limited or no practical use for hunting or home defense, yet they are the weapon of choice in mass shootings and pose additional risk to law enforcement. It’s irresponsible to make them available to the general public on-demand. We owe it to our students, our families, and our law enforcement to keep weapons of war where they belong: on the battlefield, not on store shelves.”

Copycat weapons meeting certain criteria also would be banned under the bill.

Transporting assault-style weapons across state lines would be prohibited, but subject to certain exceptions that are not detailed in the bill. Licensed firearms dealers and manufacturers would be allowed to sell or transfer assault-style weapons to a licensed dealer in another state as of the date the legislation is signed into law.

The bill wouldn’t ban the possession of any weapons purchased legally prior to signing the legislation into law. The legislation would allow possession in a lawful owner’s home, place of business, a shooting range and during an exhibition, display or education exhibit.

The bill also includes exceptions for law enforcement officers, military personnel and some testing and repair facilities.

“We have an obligation to always look for ways to make our communities safer. Having fewer assault-style weapons on our streets is one way we can accomplish that goal,” Longhurst said in a statement.

“The rallying cry across the country is being repeated over and over — enough is enough, and more than half of gun owners agree that we need to step up and address these firearms. These firearms are massively deadly weapons and should not be sold any longer.”

Gov. John Carney, D-Delaware, announced his support of the bill.

“As we have seen in Parkland, Las Vegas and in many other horrific tragedies across our country, military-style weapons can be used to carry out catastrophic acts of violence,” the governor said in a statement. “These weapons allow those intent on doing harm to outgun members of law enforcement, and they have no place on the streets of our neighborhoods.”

“It’s true that we need a national approach to confront the threat of gun violence. I believe President Trump and congressional leaders should take action. But we cannot wait to do what’s right in Delaware. This is important legislation that will make our state safer – and I urge members of the General Assembly in both parties to act quickly and send this bill to my desk as soon as possible.”

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