Delaware House votes to increase gun purchasing age to 21, strengthen background checks

House lawmakers passed two bills on Tuesday that would strengthen gun background checks and increase the state’s purchasing age for most firearms to 21 years old.

Both are a part of an overarching gun reform package that Democrats announced earlier this month, after a series of deadly mass shootings throughout the country. The chamber, last week, passed a bill that would ban the sale of assault weapons.

The purchasing age for a firearm in Delaware currently follows federal law, in which a person needs to be at least 21 years old for all handgun purchases and 18 years old for long guns.

DELAWARE POLITICS: Delaware House passes a bill to ban assault weapons amid mass shootings in America

This new piece of legislation would increase the age requirement for those looking to buy semi-automatic firearms or ammunition for a firearm. It would be illegal for anyone under 21 to possess or own these types of firearms.

Delaware lawmakers have pointed to how the shooters of both Uvalde and Buffalo massacres were both 18 years old and legally purchased semi-automatic guns.

Guns for sale at Miller's Gun Center.
Guns for sale at Miller's Gun Center.

The legislation would allow for some limited exceptions, specifically for shotguns and muzzle-loading rifles. It would also allow people 18 years and older to purchase and posses a gun if they are in the military or law enforcement or if they have a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon.

People under the age of 21 can also possess a firearm for lawful hunting.

The House also passed a bill that would reinstate the state’s background check for guns. The Firearm Transaction Approval Program was scrapped in 2011, following legislation passed by the General Assembly.

Delaware has since relied on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Lawmakers say a state background check will reduce straw purchase and the likelihood of missing certain people. The federal background check can miss those with outstanding warrants or those convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense.

This bill received unanimous support from both House Republicans and Democrats.

Even though Republicans are against many of these gun reform bills, all are expected to sail through the Democratically-controlled legislature. The package also has the support of Gov. John Carney. Republican Minority Leader Daniel Short, in a committee hearing last week, alluded to a possible legal fight if this legislation passes.

The other bills a part of the package include limiting high-capacity magazines, holding gun manufacturers and dealers liable for negligent actions that lead to gun violence and banning the use of devices that convert handguns into fully automatic weapons.

Contact Meredith Newman at (302) 256-2466 or at Follow her on Twitter at @MereNewman.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Delaware House passes two more gun reform measures