March 23, 2021 - Press Statement - Data Release

Broad Majorities of Delaware Voters Support Permit to Purchase Legislation

A new statewide survey of registered voters in Delaware shows broad, bipartisan support for legislation to require individuals to secure a state-issued permit that requires a comprehensive criminal background check and safety training, before being able to purchase a handgun in Delaware.


More than 2-in-3 Delaware voters support this proposal, with broad majorities expressing ‘strong support,’ – including gun owners, Republicans, and residents of all three counties, compared to less than 30 percent who oppose the concept. 


“This report demonstrates conclusively what we've seen in survey after survey, which is that Delawareans are far more united in their support of gun-safety policies than the most outspoken hardliners who frequently dominate this debate would lead us to believe,” said Sen. Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, D-Wilmington. “Public safety is paramount, and both Democrats and Republicans from Wilmington to Selbyville agree that we can do more to regulate access and ownership of these potentially lethal tools without inhibiting our right to sport and self-protection. Court after court has ruled common-sense gun safety measures are not a threat to anyone's Constitutional rights. I’m thankful most responsible gun owners in our state are joining with other Delawareans to support these prudent, life-saving solutions.”


Traci Murphy, Executive Director of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence, is not surprised by the survey outcomes. “We know that gun violence is not a left or right issue, it’s a life or death issue,” Murphy said. “It’s clear that Delawareans support gun safety policies designed to protect our families and our communities.”


“The polling reveals what many of us already know in our hearts: The vast majority of Delawareans support reasonable and responsible gun safety measures to protect society,” said Rep. Sherry Dorsey Walker, D-Wilmington. “Regardless of political ideology, race or geography, residents agree that requiring a permit to purchase a firearm is a prudent measure. As a Second Amendment supporter, this proposal is reflective of responsible gun ownership.”

Permit to Purchase laws have a proven track record of reducing both homicide and suicide, and also reduce gun trafficking. When Connecticut passed a law requiring all handgun buyers to pass a background check both at the point of sale and as part of a permit process, it was associated with a 40 percent reduction in the gun homicide rate and a 15 percent reduction in the gun suicide rate.**


Below is a breakdown of public support for the two key aspects of the proposed legislation broken out by party registration, county, and gun ownership:


The breadth and intensity of this support are striking, but it is also consistent with previous polling in Delaware and across the country. Opponents of these proposals are well-funded and vocal, but they represent a tiny minority within the First State.

As voters learn more about the specifics of Permit to Purchase laws, their support only increases:

  • All applicants for a license or permit to purchase a gun must complete a firearms training course, similar to what is required by Delaware's concealed carry permit law.

    • This provision makes 62 percent of Delaware voters more likely to support the concept, including 64 percent of Independent women and 58 percent of Republican women 

  • The background checks required would include fingerprinting, just like those conducted by law enforcement for other purposes like employment and housing.

    • This provision makes 59 percent of Delaware voters more likely to support Permit to Purchase legislation, including 53 percent in Sussex and 49 percent in Kent Co.

  • State law enforcement authorities would be in charge of issuing any license or permit required for purchasing a gun.

    • This provision makes 45 percent of Delaware voters more likely to support Permit to Purchase legislation, including 75 percent of Black Delawareans and 64 percent of seniors ages 65 and over.


Delaware voters are more likely to support the Permit to Purchase legislation if it applies to all firearms sold in the state – including handguns and long guns – than if it is restricted exclusively to handguns.

The Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence is dedicated to ending gun violence in Delaware and nationwide through education, advocacy, and policy implementation.

The survey was conducted by GBAO Strategies. GBAO conducted a representative statewide survey of 600 voters registered to vote in Delaware, including an oversample of 100 voters in Kent and Sussex Counties to ensure adequate samples in each county, on March 9-11, 2021. Interviews were completed via landlines and cell phones by professional interviewers, plus by text message, to ensure the most representative sample possible. The final sample reflects an accurate distribution of voters based on age, gender, race, geography, and party registration. Results are subject to a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent at the 95 percent confidence interval.





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