The first piece of gun legislation in a package Governor Jack Markell and Attorney General Beau Biden announced several weeks ago was officially unveiled today.
The proposed bill on Lost/Stolen Firearms would require gun owners to notify police within 48 hours of noticing their firearm was lost or stolen.
“It’s simple, it’s responsible, and it should be the law here in Delaware,” said Markell.
Breaking the law would cost first time offenders a fine of up to $500. However, second offenders face a much stronger penalty.
“Repeat offenders face a class G felony, which among other things; mean that second offenders may no longer possess a firearm legally,” said Markell.
According to Biden, the law would help shutdown the pipeline of getting guns to criminals.
“Straw purchasers, those who buy guns legally, and sell or transfer them to a prohibited person, keep the marketplace stocked with a supply of lethal weapons that do destruction on the streets of our cities and communities across our state,” said Biden.
With the legislation, Biden said straw purchasers can’t use the excuse that they didn’t know their firearm was stolen or lost.
“It gives law enforcement and my office the tool to hold straw purchasers criminally accountable for illegally supplying criminals with weapons,” he said.
The law would help police better track stolen weapons and the person or persons accused of the crime.
Seven other states already require the reporting of lost of stolen guns and federally licensed gun dealers are already required to report any lost or stolen weapons.
While Biden said that there is momentum behind new gun legislation nationally, Lt. Governor Matt Denn has been flooded with messages from state residents that he said have been misinformed of the efforts.
“Our efforts are concentrated in three areas that most Delaware gun owners would have no issue with if they got the straight information,” said Denn.
Four other pieces of legislation are under development by the state including more thorough background checks for those purchasing a gun.
“We want to make sure background checks are done properly so there is no way for people who shouldn’t own a gun to end run the background check system,” said Denn.
Limiting high capacity magazine ammunition and the use of military style guns is another component to the legislation that the state is developing.
“We want to put responsible limits on where people have certain types of weapons,” said Denn. “This primary purpose is either to fire lots of rounds in a short period of time or to inflict maximum damage.”
The last part of the new legislation includes more safety measures around schools such as prohibiting weapons within a certain distance from school grounds.
Denn has been taking in the information from concerned citizens as state leaders continue to shape the rest of the gun legislation.
“We want less gun violence in our state and today’s bill is part of a thoughtful, multi-part effort to do that,” he said.
The legislator will begin reviewing the proposals when it resumes session in March.