Delaware approves background checks for gun sales

Delaware lawmakers approve expanded background checks for gun sales, closing the so-called “gun show loophole.”


In a 13-8 vote, the Delaware Senate approved a portion of Governor Jack Markell’s gun control agenda which was unveiled following the deadly school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.  House Bill 35 requires background checks for nearly all gun sales and is designed to keep guns away from both criminals and those who are mentally ill.

“This is not about so many things that the opponents wanted to make it about,” Markell said.  “We believe in protecting the second amendment, we just want to keep weapons out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.”  Markell is expected to sign the legislation into law, although a date for that signing has not been set yet.  Once signed, the background check requirements would go into effect on July 1.  

The legislation makes exceptions to the background check requirement for sales between immediate family members, as well as sales involving active duty or retired law enforcement officers.  The bill also exempts sales involving antique firearms and replicas.

Senator Harris McDowell has introduced similar legislation in previous years, only to see those efforts fall short.  Now, with the catalyst of Sandy Hook fresh in the minds of lawmakers, the “gun show loophole” has been closed.  The Wilmington Democrat says it’s evidence of shifting opinions on the issue.  “There’s no question about it, they have been shifting, but I think the tragedy in Connecticut, at Sandy Hook just made a paradigm shift that is actually still occurring.”

This is just one leg of Markell’s gun control package.  Other parts include a ban on the sale of high capacity magazines, an assault weapon ban.  Markell also wants to require gun owners to report a loss or stolen weapon within 48 hours.  He also is proposing a gun possession ban within 1,000 feet of a school.

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