Delaware’s ban on bump stocks to take effect after buyback events

Delaware Gov. John Carney signs legislation banning bump stock devices Thursday. (Courtesy of Jen Rini)

Delaware Gov. John Carney signs legislation banning bump stock devices Thursday. (Courtesy of Jen Rini)

After a Las Vegas gunman killed 58 and injured more than 400 using a bump stock device last year, a number of states began re-evaluating the legality of the accessory that can transform a semi-automatic gun into an automatic.

In June, Delaware lawmakers decided to ban bump stock possession, adding the devices to a list of outlawed weapons and items including sawed-off shotguns and silencers. As part of that legislation, the state will spend up to $15,000 overall to buy bump stocks and trigger cranks from residents who owned them before the ban. The state is offering $100 per bump stock and $15 for a trigger crank. Bump stocks advertised for sale online are going for as low as $69.

“Unlike many places across the country, we were able to come together in a bipartisan way and pass — I think — meaningful legislation that will protect the citizens of our state,” said Gov. John Carney, who signed the bill into law in June. The Senate approved the legislation unanimously; only two House members opposed it.

“These devices were not prohibited or illegal in our state prior to the passage of this legislation, and we all agreed that having a buyback program like this was only fair for those who had bought these devices legally,” Carney said. “Safety and urgency are key. After these two events, the devices will be illegal in the state.”

The buyback events are set for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Nov. 7 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Delaware State Police barracks in Newark, Camden and Georgetown.

State Rep. Deborah Hudson, who voted for the legislation, said she was concerned with the amount available for the buyback program.

“There’s only $15,000 set aside for this. It’s unknown … if this will be enough,” Hudson said. She said she’s willing to join with a gun safety group to raise money to buy back more bump stocks if the program runs out of money. “We want to see it work,” Hudson said.

The buyback is only available for Delaware residents with a photo ID. Bump stocks can be surrendered anonymously, but the state won’t pay for those. The accessories should be detached from the weapons before they’re brought to the barracks, police said.

Carney lauded the General Assembly’s progress this year in addressing gun violence. In addition to the bump stock ban, lawmakers also restricted firearm access for those considered a danger by family, police or mental health professionals. Another bill increased penalties for straw purchases of guns.

But an effort to ban on assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines failed.

“We have weapons now that are military style, and we need to make a decision as a state and as a country … obviously, it would be better if it happened at the federal level,” Carney said. An assault-style rifle was used in Saturday’s synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh.

“I don’t need any more motivation than the gun violence that occurs on the streets of Wilmington and Dover and Seaford and places up and down our state,” Carney said. “I think it’s something that we ought to continue to push for.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.