Delaware proposal aims to redefine the definition of firearms

Delaware’s firearm laws have come under criticism for being excessively broad, as they encompass a wide range of non-lethal weapons such as slingshots and paint guns. This has led to a push for changes in state law by concerned individuals.

According to state Rep. Jeff Spiegelman, R-Townsend, Clayton, Smyrna, one of the primary sponsors of the bill, the current law in our state defines a firearm as anything that fires anything. He points out that this broad definition poses a problem as it includes various technologies and devices that people typically do not consider as firearms. Furthermore, he mentions that these items are not classified as firearms anywhere else in the country.

State Senator Brian Pettyjohn, a supporter of the proposed changes, expressed concerns about the state Department of Justice’s reluctance to back the reforms. He pointed out that the broad definition of firearms crimes could give prosecutors too much discretion in charging individuals, even in cases where a gun was not involved.

He expressed concerns about the DOJ’s stance on the matter, stating that they advocated for preserving the current state of affairs and assured that they wouldn’t misuse their authority. This approach raises issues, as it not only increases the risk of individuals being wrongly accused of crimes but also creates uncertainty within the Delaware Code.

The state Senate failed to approve a similar measure last year, despite bipartisan support garnered in the House.

According to Spiegelman, the new measure is a thoughtful and nuanced approach that takes into account the concerns raised by prosecutors. It aims to protect the citizens of Delaware from being unjustly charged with firearms offenses for unintentional actions that do not involve actual guns.

The bill is being considered by the judiciary committee in conjunction with proposals to strengthen the state’s gun control laws. These proposals include an expansion of the ‘red flag’ law, which grants authorities the power to seize firearms from individuals who are determined to be a threat to themselves or others.

Last month, the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed a bill mandating that Delaware residents must obtain a permit to purchase a handgun once they have completed an approved firearm training course. The bill is now awaiting the consideration of Governor John Carney, who is anticipated to sign it. However, this move is likely to be met with opposition from Second Amendment groups, who argue that it violates the constitution and may lead to a legal challenge.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only a few states have comparable laws regarding handgun permits, and some of these laws are currently being contested in court.

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MBS Staff
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