Proposed legislation requires owners to report gun thefts

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Governor Jack Markell today joined Lt. Gov. Matt Denn and Attorney General Beau Biden to unveil legislation that would require gun owners to notify police whenever their firearms are lost or stolen.

The bill is one of five gun safety measures being proposed by Gov. Markell, Lt. Gov. Denn and Attorney General Biden in the wake of the ecent mass shootings.   Prime sponsors of the bill are Sen. Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East) and Rep. Michael Barbieri (D-Newark).

The legislation would require gun owners to report the loss or theft of their firearm to police within 48 hours of discovery.  (The reporting obligation does not start until the owner discover that the firearm is missing.)  Owners may report the loss or theft to their local police department or any Delaware State Police Troop.  Violators will be subject to a fine of $100 to $500 for a first offense.  Second and subsequent offenses would be class G felonies.

“This is a common-sense proposal that will help law enforcement keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” Biden said. “All too often prosecutors in my office are confronted with defendants who claim their weapon was lost or stolen, when in reality that gun was purchased and then immediately handed over to a criminal who is not legally allowed to have a gun. Under this bill, if a gun is legitimately lost or stolen, the police will know right away. This is an important piece of our balanced approach to reduce gun violence and protect our children.”

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