House passes assault weapons sales ban in 22-19 vote

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Owners would keep weapons they already purchased

The Delaware House passed legislation that would effectively prohibit the buying, selling, and possession of assault-style weapons in Delaware.

Passage came after 18 and 19-year-old males used military-style semi-automatic rifles in mass slayings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, NY.

The vote was 22-19, with all Republicans and a couple of Democrats in the no column.

Last week, House and Senate Democratic leaders and Governor Carney announced a package of gun-related bills.

Sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear. House Bill 450 would prohibit the manufacture, sale, offer to sell, transfer, purchase, receipt, possession, or transport of assault-style weapons in Delaware, according to a legal definition. The prohibition would include popular firearms such as AK-47s, AR-15s, UZIs, and similar weapons.

Assault weapons have been used in the seven deadliest mass shootings in the last decade. An analysis of public mass shootings resulting in four or more deaths found that more than 85% of such fatalities were caused by assault rifles, according to a release from House Democrats.

Under the Delaware Lethal Firearms Safety Act of 2022, prohibited weapons would include specific assault long guns and pistols as spelled out in the bill, as well as “copycat” firearms. Copycats include a semi-automatic centerfire rifle, a semi-automatic shotgun that has a folding stock, or a shotgun with a revolving cylinder.

HB 450 would not prohibit the possession and transport of firearms that were lawfully possessed or fully applied for before the bill becomes law, with certain restrictions. There would be exceptions for law enforcement and military personnel in the course of their official duties, and a limited exception for retired law-enforcement personnel. A person lawfully in possession of an assault weapon prior to the passage of HB 450 could lawfully transfer the weapon to their immediate family member, through inheritance or otherwise.

Additionally, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security would be required to develop a procedure for issuance of a voluntary certificate of possession to show lawful possession of an assault weapon prior to the bill becoming law. A gun owner would not be required to apply for the certificate. The department would not be permitted to retain copies of issued certificates or identifying information of any applicant.

In addition to this bill, lawmakers have announced plans to raise the age from 18 to 21 to purchase most firearms, limit high-capacity magazines, strengthen background checks, hold gun manufacturers and dealers liable for reckless or negligent actions, and ban the use of devices that convert handguns into fully automatic weapons.

House Bill 450 goes to the state Senate for consideration.