After suing the state over three gun laws, the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association’s latest legal challenge targets the state’s high-capacity magazine buyback program.
The group is challenging a package of laws passed in June that increased the age to purchase most firearms from 18 to 21, banned the sale of assault-style weapons, and limited high-capacity magazines.
As part of the measure limiting magazine size to less than 18 rounds of ammunition, the measure signed by Gov. John Carney this summer allowed the state Dept. of Safety and Homeland Security to buy the newly illegal magazines back from gun owners who live in Delaware. The state offered $15 for magazines holding 18 to 30 rounds and $25 for magazines holding 31 or more rounds. Large magazine drums could be turned in for $80.
DSSA President Jeff Hague is challenging the buyback in court, claiming the effort to outlaw the magazines, as well as the laws limiting gun purchases, violates the Delaware Constitution.
“We want the state not to enforce the laws that we feel are unconstitutional,” Hague said. “Leave law-abiding gun owners alone. We have a constitutional right that if we obey the law, and are prohibited by a certain statute from owning a firearm, to have one.”
The language in Delaware’s Constitution protecting gun rights goes a step further than the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, giving Delaware residents “the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for hunting and recreational use.”
Hague argued mass shootings and other incidents of gun violence are not an issue that can be solved by laws against gun possession. Rather, he said those incidents can be reduced by better holding criminals accountable with higher bail costs and longer jail sentences.
President of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Traci Murphy has long fought for stronger gun laws. She said incidents of gun violence in Wilmington and elsewhere are the result of young people owning guns.
“We know that the brains of teenagers are not fully developed at 18,” she said. “We should prevent them from injury and harm and protect them by not letting them access firearms.”
“Quite honestly, you know, people who say people have the right to defend their home, they’re trying to sell guns,” Murphy said. “They’re not trying to defend gun rights. They’re trying to expand their own bottom line by defending gun sales, not gun rights.”
Gun owner Charles Bermudez, who will soon move to Delaware from Lancaster, Pa. supports the buyback program, but questioned the compensation. “At the end of the day, they’re still getting guns off the street,” he said. “If someone pays like 600 bucks for a gun, you’re not going to give me $200, which is not happening.”
DSSA filed its injunction Tuesday.
The state’s next buyback event will be held Saturday, November 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at State Police barracks in Georgetown, Camden, and Newark.