Four days after hundreds gathered at Legislative Mall in Dover to protest two gun bills in the state Legislature, a bill requiring a permit and training in order to buy a handgun moved through committee and closer to full passage by the General Assembly.
Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Wilmington and New Castle County legislators, moved out of the House Judiciary Committee May 11 with the support of four members. Two members noted the bill as unfavorable.
SB 3 would require a person to pay for fingerprinting, pay for and complete training, and fill out an application before buying a handgun. The bill now awaits action in the House, and if passed, would become law if Gov. John Carney signs it into law. The bill already passed the Senate April 1 by a 13-8 vote, nearly along party lines with only one Democrat voting against it. Senate Bill 6, which would ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, also passed April 1 by the same margin.
On May 8, nearly 1,000 gun-rights supporters gathered at Legislative Mall in Dover to voice their opposition to the two gun bills.
“I need a commitment from everyone that the next time we have one of these rallies, you bring someone with you,” said Mitch Denham, president of Delaware Gun Rights.
He said gun owners are at risk of losing their gun rights, and the more law-abiding citizens lose those rights, the more tyrannical a government can become.
“The Second Amendment was written for the people who work in there, and the people who work in Washington,” he said, gesturing to Legislative Hall behind him. “It was so if they ever became so tyrannical that they tried to oppress us, we could stand up and say, ‘Oh, hell no.’”
Many New Castle County and Wilmington legislators, who sponsored and support the gun bills, won their seats on a gun-control platform, prompting Sen. Dave Wilson, R-Lincoln, to call for new leadership up north.
“You don’t need to campaign in your backyard; you need to campaign in New Castle County,” he said. “You’ve got to change the dynamics up north.”
Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, said gun rights should be protected in Delaware. “If we let these rights slip by, there’s not going to be a tomorrow,” he said.
Jeff Hague, president of the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, said the association sponsored the rally after both bills passed the Senate. He said he was not sure whether the group would hold a similar rally in New Castle County.
Hague said if both bills pass the House, DSSA will challenge them in court for violating the state constitution. Delaware’s Constitution gives broad gun rights to citizens and is more specific than the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.
John Sigler, former president of the National Rifle Association and past president of the DSSA, rallied the crowd to petition legislators in the House to vote against gun restrictions.
“It was wrong what the Senate did. Let’s not make it wrong what the House does,” he said.