May 11, 2021 - Coalition Letter in support of SB3
May 11, 2021
Dear Members of the Delaware House Judiciary and Appropriations Committees,
We, the undersigned organizations representing millions of gun violence prevention advocates, survivors, policy makers, public health professionals, as well as tens of thousands of Delawareans, write to you to state our collective support for Senate Bill 3, which would enact an evidence-based, effective permit to purchase system for ensuring that handguns are only purchased and used by responsible Americans.
Gun violence is a national crisis as well as a crisis in Delaware. Each year, handgun violence impacts far too many Delawareans. Every three days, someone is impacted by gun violence in Delaware, and guns purchased in Delaware are regularly trafficked within the state and to other states where gun violence occurs. These are preventable issues. There is a large body of research that shows that permit to purchase policies are effective at reducing gun violence and trafficking, and confirms it is a necessary component of comprehensive, lifesaving gun laws.
SB 3 will ensure that handgun buyers are safety trained, subject to a comprehensive criminal background check and required to get fingerprinted in-person at a law enforcement agency. These requirements help protect against fraud or inaccuracies that could allow dangerous individuals to obtain handguns, a concern in the recent shooting in Smyrna that orphaned three children and left two women dead before the shooter took his own life. Ten states – Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Rhode Island – and the District of Columbia have enacted similar permit to purchase laws that require prospective purchasers to obtain a permit before buying at least some types of firearms. Like SB 3, several of these states allow the licensing authority to exercise discretion to deny a permit out of a well-founded concern that the applicant poses a risk of dangerousness. A number of states also require applicants to obtain firearm safety training.
Of the many gun violence prevention policies supported by research, permit to purchase laws are among the most promising. When Connecticut passed a permitting law, its firearm homicide rate decreased by 40%[i] and its firearm suicide rate decreased by 15%.[ii] Conversely, when Missouri repealed its licensing law, the state experienced an up to 27% increase in its firearm homicide rate[iii] and its firearm suicide rate increased by 16%.[iv] A study of licensing laws across 80 large urban counties found that these laws are associated with an 11% decrease in firearm homicides.[v]
Permit to purchase laws also help to prevent gun trafficking and the diversion of guns to prohibited purchasers. In states with permitting or licensing laws, criminals typically acquire guns that originate from states with weaker laws.[vi] After Missouri repealed its permit to purchase law, the share of crime guns that originated from an in-state retail transaction doubled.[vii] States with strong permitting laws were associated with 76% lower rates of interstate gun trafficking.[viii]
In addition to its demonstrated effectiveness, independent polling conducted in March of this year shows widespread public support for permit to purchase policies. 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. This is consistent with polling in 2019 showing that 77% of all Americans, and 68% of American gun owners, support laws requiring a person to obtain a license from local law enforcement before buying a gun.[ix]
Permit-to-purchase is a popular, effective, and evidence-backed policy that will undoubtedly improve public safety and reduce both gun violence and gun crimes in Delaware and in neighboring states. Accordingly, the undersigned organizations urge you to vote SB 3 out of committee.
Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Everytown for Gun Safety / Moms Demand Action
March for Our Lives
States United to Prevent Gun Violence
Sandy Hook Promise
Delaware State NAACP
League of Women Voters Delaware
Delaware Women for Inclusion
Jewish Family Services of Delaware
Islamic Society of Delaware
Bishop Peggy Johnson, on behalf of the members of The United Methodist Church in Delaware
Stop the Violence Prayer Chain Community Center
Westminster Presbyterian Church Peace and Justice Work Group
Delaware Sikh Awareness Coalition (DSAC)
Punjabis in Delaware (PIND)
Ninth Ward Interfaith Coalition of Wilmington
Rev. Corey Fields, Calvary Baptist Church, Newark, DE
Rev. Gregory Pelley, UU Society of Mill Creek, Newark, DE
Sally Milbury-Steen, Newark Quaker Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Naveed Baqir, Ph, Executive Director, Delaware Council on Global and Muslim affairs
Rev. Andrew L. Weber, Unitarian Universalist minister
Rev. Cynthia Robinson, New Ark United Church of Christ, Newark, DE
Pastor Andy Jacob, Hanover Church
Rev Dr. Clifford Johnson, Shiloh Baptist Church
La Vaida Owens White, Community Nurse
Rabbi Yair D. Robinson, Congregation Beth Emeth
Rabbi Michael Beals, Congregation Beth Shalom and Chair of the Delaware Council of Faith-Based Partnerships
March 23, 2021 - Press Statement - Data Release
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.