Federal judge upholds Delaware’s gun sales law | Delaware

Second Amendment

(The Center Square) — A federal judge has rejected a legal challenge to a Delaware law that allows gun dealers to be prosecuted for selling firearms used in shootings.

In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Richard G. Andrews dismissed a legal challenge by the National Shooting Sports Foundation seeking to overturn the law, signed by Gov. John Carney in 2022. The law stripped gun manufacturers and dealers of immunity from being sued in state courts for negligence. 

Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings, whose office defended the state against the lawsuit, praised the ruling and criticized the group’s legal challenge as “another right-wing challenge to a commonsense gun safety law.”

“The gun lobby claims to speak for gun owners, but at day’s end its masters have always been corporate and its priority is protecting profits, full stop,” Jennings, a Democrat, said in a statement. “It is a massive giveaway to a special interest that gives the people of this state nothing in return.” 

The law, approved in 2022, is named after KeKe Anderson, a bystander killed in a 2016 shooting involving a firearm bought through a “straw” purchase at Cabela’s by an individual who wasn’t allowed to own a firearm.

The law repealed state immunity granted to gun dealers like Cabela’s under state law, making Delaware the first state in the country to eliminate a gun industry liability shield. It requires gun sellers to maintain “reasonable controls” to prevent sales to “straw” purchasers by convicted felons, firearm traffickers and others prohibited from owning a gun from getting one.

Jennings’ office is also investigating whether Cabella’s violated Delaware’s public nuisance law in response to reports that thousands of rounds of ammunition had been stolen from one of its stores. 

Delaware has tightened its gun control laws in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the N.Y. State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen’s case, which struck down a New York law requiring applicants to show “proper cause” to get a permit to carry a firearm.

In August, Carney signed a Democratic-sponsored bill that prevents legal gun owners, except law enforcement officers, from carrying concealed firearms within 1,000 feet of school “safe zone” or entertainment property. 

Another measure bars anyone except on-duty police officers, security guards and military members from carrying a gun at polling locations during federal, state and local elections. 

Last year, Carney signed a package of gun control measures that included a ban on the sale of ‘assault’ weapons, an increase in the age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21, strengthened background checks and limits on large-capacity magazines. It also banned the use of devices that convert handguns into fully automatic weapons. 

The Delaware State Sportsman Association, a state-level affiliate of the National Rifle Association, filed a lawsuit against the stricter restrictions, arguing they violate Second Amendment rights and Delaware’s Constitution, which guarantees a right to own and carry firearms.  

The plaintiffs argued the new law “criminalized” the purchase and ownership of common firearms used by labeling them as “deadly weapons” and making it a felony “for law-abiding citizens to exercise their fundamental right to keep and bear such arms.” 

The outcome of that case, and others challenging Delaware’s gun control laws, is pending appeal. 

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