Delaware Public Media

Gun control bills pass Delaware House

Mar 8, 2018

Legislation banning bump stocks and strengthening sentences for people convicted of gun straw purchases passed the Delaware House Thursday.

Lawmakers united on straw purchases, but divided mostly along party lines on bump stocks.

Bump stocks and similar devices allow semi-automatic rifles to fire nearly as fast as automatic weapons. A mass shooter used them to kill more than 50 people in Las Vegas last year.

The bump stocks bill would immediately ban buying and selling these devices and require current owners to turn them into law enforcement within four months or face possible felony charges.

Opponents cited concerns about people who bought bump stocks legally and now may face prison time for possessing them. House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf said he’s open to looking at a state buyback plan.

“Maybe one of the gun store chains that are against these things, maybe we can turn them into there, get a credit in their store and then they would be able to get a tax break at the end of the year, something of that nature," he said. "That’s thinking outside the box. I don’t have any problem with those type of things. The sole goal is to get these things off the street.”

Schwartzkopf says he understands concerns about making a formerly legal device illegal, but is more concerned about bump stocks being used in a mass shooting in Delaware.

“Bottom line, it’s been used before, we’re outlawing them," he said. "It’s one of the reasons why we don’t have automatic weapons, fully automatic, because they can throw so many bullets downrange so quickly and they can kill a heck of a lot more people.”

No House lawmakers opposed stiffening penalties for straw purchases. Straw purchases are when someone prohibited from having a gun gets another person to buy it for them. Under the legislation, first-time offenders would face up to five years in prison instead of three.

Both bills now head to the Senate.