Most private gun transfers in Delaware will soon be subject to the same background check rules currently applied to sales by licensed dealers, according a measure signed into law today by Gov. Jack Markell.
The signing comes on a day when several other pieces of a Democrat-sponsored package of gun control bills are facing committee action in the General Assembly.
The background check law is the first piece of the package, introduced earlier this year, to win passage.
Effective July 1, private gun sellers will be required to obtain federal background checks on buyers, except in cases where a firearm is being transferred to a close family member, a law enforcement officer or the holder of a valid concealed-carry permit.
The background checks will be performed on behalf of private sellers by federally licensed firearms dealers, who may charge a fee for the service.
“Today we are closing the private-sale loophole once and for all,” Markell said. “No longer will we have two different markets for the sale of firearms, a regulated market for dealers and an unregulated market for everybody else.”
Delaware passed its first background-check law in 1990, four years before Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. Six previous Delaware bills to compel private-sale checks failed in the General Assembly.
House committees today will hold hearings on four other gun bills.
Two are bipartisan measures that would increase the mandatory jail terms for offenders guilty of illegally possessing a firearm or carrying an illegally concealed gun. They have wide support and are expected to pass easily.
A third bill to be heard in committee today seeks to prevent those with mental illnesses from possessing guns, by expanding reporting provisions applied to practitioners and including in existing law more individuals who have been treated for mental health conditions.
Also in committee is a bill to tighten rules for reporting lost and stolen firearms, which has already passed the Senate.
Contact Doug Denison at 678-4271, on Twitter @DoverDelDenison or at firstname.lastname@example.org.