Del. General Assembly Passes Age Restriction For Buying Most Firearms, Adjusting Background Check Program


A bill to increase the legal age for buying most firearms in Delaware from 18 to 21 has passed in the House of Representatives.
Currently, state law mirrors federal law which does allow someone who is 18 to purchase long guns, including rifles and shotguns. Someone must be 21 to purchase a handgun.

“We already prohibit people under 21 from buying a handgun, and there’s no reason we should treat long guns any differently. More and more, the research shows that 18 is a delicate age, and allowing teens to walk into a store and purchase a firearm is inviting problems. In Delaware, the most common age for shooters has been 18-21 the past few years,” House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach said. “We need to learn from every mass shooting and take decisive action to prevent the next one. Unfortunately, what we saw in Uvalde and Buffalo happened in Parkland four years ago – someone under 21 bought a gun that was designed for the military and used it to murder students. It’s long past time that Delaware lead on this issue and raise the age for buying a rifle to 21.”

Under the bill, House Bill 451, there would be limited exceptions for shotguns and muzzle-loading rifles and related ammunition… also for members of active military and the National Guard, law enforcement officers, and who have a concealed carry license who are 18 or older.
The measure was approved 27-13 and goes to the State Senate.

Also, Delaware has taken a step toward reinstituting a gun background check program within the Delaware State Police Bureau of Identification. The Firearm Transaction Approval Program, or FTAP, would be designated as the point of contact between a federal firearms licensee and the federal database which is used by the FBI for background checks.

“Thorough and complete background checks are still one of the best ways to ensure that people who should not possess firearms are not able to obtain them,” Representative Larry Mitchell, D-Elsmere said. “A national system can have gaps that potentially problematic buyers could slip through. Re-establishing FTAP will help us identify people who would otherwise be prohibited but NICS might have missed, such as a person convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense. It will make our background check system stronger and more thorough and provide more protection for residents.”

The bill, House Bill 423, passed unanimously in the House Tuesday and heads to the State Senate for consideration.