DSSA promises to file lawsuit if Permit to Purchase bill becomes law in Delaware

DOVER, Del. – The Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association (DSSA) is pushing back against gun control legislation to require a permit to purchase a handgun, promising to file a federal lawsuit if the bill becomes law.

Senate Bill 2, introduced by lawmakers on Wednesday, would add Delaware to a growing list of states that require residents to complete a firearm training course and obtain a permit before purchasing a handgun.

Following the bill’s introduction, a wave of opposition from gun rights advocates was felt across the First State.

DSSA President Jeff Hague is among those who are opposed, saying the bill is unconstitutional and that he promises to file a lawsuit if it’s signed into law.

“It’s a total infringement on your right to keep and bear arms. The old adage of a right delayed is a right denied is very applicable here,” Hague said. “I can guarantee you before the ink is dried from the Governor’s signature there will be a lawsuit filed in federal court at the minimum because this is a total violation of federal and state constitutional protections.”

Under the legislation, most Delawareans could obtain a permit to purchase a handgun if they have completed an approved firearm training course in the last five years.

Qualified law enforcement officers, qualified retired law enforcement officers, and anyone permitted to carry a concealed deadly weapon by the State of Delaware would be exempt from that requirement because they already would have been required to complete a firearm training course.

Hague raised concerns over the accessibility and affordability of such training courses which would be required by law if the bill passes.

“Where are you going to get the class?” Hague asked. “Right now, concealed carry classes are far and few in between, they’re all full, and they range in price from $150 to $400 or $500 depending on their content.”

There’s also a concern over the ability to be fingerprinted, according to Hague, who emphasized how that would be required following the completion of the training course.

“Where are you going to get fingerprinted?” Hague stressed. “There’s only two locations currently in the state to get fingerprinted, one in Dover, and one by appointment only up north.”

After completing a training course, state residents legally eligible to purchase a handgun would then submit a permit application to the State Bureau of Identification. The Bureau would then have 30 days to fingerprint the applicant, confirm they are legally allowed to own a handgun, and issue a handgun qualified purchaser permit required at the point of sale.

Those in favor of the legislation argue that the added requirements could make a big difference in preventing guns from getting into the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.

47 ABC’s Rob Flaks spoke to Traci Murphy, executive director of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence, who praised lawmakers for introducing the bill and said this will help prevent guns from getting into the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.

“There is a strong ability to sell guns on the underhand market, and that is how so many guns make it into our communities and into the hands of kids,” Murphy said. “We see many times those perpetrating community violence are not old enough to purchase guns themselves, so its easier for an older brother or someone who wants a quick buck if its easier for them to get its easier for them to give to you.”

The legislation includes no application fees and places no restriction on the number of handguns that could be purchased during the 180 days that a qualified purchaser permit is valid.

Similar legislation introduced in 2021 passed the Senate but failed to reach Governor Carney’s desk.

The latest bill marks the third time that the measure has been introduced. The first hearing for the legislation is set for next Wednesday.

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