Del. House approves expanded gun background checks

By Randall Chase, AP/WDEL Staff 12:32am, March 29, 2013 - Updated 8:13am, March 29, 2013
The state House has passed a bill subjecting most gun sales between private sellers and buyers in Delaware to criminal background checks.

The bill cleared the Democrat-controlled House on a 24-17 vote Thursday and now goes to the Senate.

Lawmakers approved the bill after adding several amendments, including one that specifically prohibits the state from using information from background checks to establish any kind of gun registration system, which some opponents claim is the real intent of the bill.

Under current law, background checks are required for purchases from federally licensed firearms dealers, but not for transactions between private sellers and buyers.

The bill received significant criticism from some Republican lawmakers like House Minority Leader Rep. Dan Short (R-Seaford)

"We're just gonna push people into the shadows and this is going to occur somewhere else other than the gun shop," Short says.

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House Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear), the bill's prime sponsor says that while the measure might not be perfect, it's a step in the right direction.

"It may not be the answer to the solution but it is a process that we slow down criminals," Longhurst says.

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The legislation is part of a package of gun control measures proposed by Gov. Markell after the December massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.

Markell said in a statement that he was pleased to see that the bill was able to pass with amendments that were sensitive to some community members' concerns.

“Delaware is a step closer to making our citizens safer by requiring a background check on nearly every gun purchase or transfer. The litany of tragic shootings in other states and in our own state should be all the impetus we need to do more to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them. But this is also a common sense measure that is supported by an overwhelming 88 percent of Delawareans,” Markell says.

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