Nearly 6 months after Delaware Gov. Jack Markell introduced a package of bills that make up stricter gun laws; Markell signed another piece of gun legislation, this time requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to police.
Delaware became the eighth state to pass such a bill that law enforcement officials say will ultimately address straw purchases, cracking down on people who make gun purchases just to give it away to someone restricted from carrying a firearm. Violators could be forced to pay a a fine of at least $75 for a first offense and even more if they fail to report their weapon lost or stolen a second time.
Sen. Margaret Rose Henry and Rep. Michael Barbieri both sponsored the legislation also known as Senate Bill 16.
“We hope it help keep our streets safer by combating those so-called ‘straw purchasers’ who buy guns, often in quantity, sell them to criminals and then miraculously discover that they’re missing,” said Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington East.
“For the vast majority of law-abiding gun owners, this bill will have very little impact on their lives,” said Rep. Barbieri, D-Newark. “For those engaged in straw purchases, this bill helps law enforcement with police investigations and give them one additional tool to combat straw purchases. It is another small step toward keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of those who should not have them.”
Since 2009, Delaware police officers have arrested more than 6,000 people across the state for possessing firearms illegally. In fact, according to the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System many of the cases involved offenders who were able to get their hands on a weapon through a straw purchaser. However, under Senate Bill 16 gun owners will be required to report their personal gun missing within 7 days of making the discovery.
“Quickly reporting lost and stolen firearms helps the police keep those guns from ending up in the hands of criminals and other dangerous individuals,” said Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden. “This legislation will also help my office prosecute individuals who buy guns on behalf of criminals, only to claim they lost the weapon or it was stolen when that gun is used in a crime.”
“Finally, we have given our law enforcement officers a useful and practical tool to address a dangerous practice that has allowed firearms to get into the wrong hands,” said Markell. “Combined with our efforts to require background checks for private sales, we have made great strides this year toward making our communities safer.”