Schwartzkopf Bill Would Raise Age for All Firearm Purchases to 21

DOVER – House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf introduced legislation Thursday that would raise the age for all Delaware residents to purchase any firearm to 21 years old.

Current state law requires a buyer be at least 21 years old for all handgun purchases, but only 18 years old for long guns (including rifles and shotguns). House Bill 330 would increase to 21 the age of a person to whom another person can sell, give, or transfer a firearm or ammunition for a firearm.

“We already prohibit people under 21 from buying a handgun, and there’s no reason we should treat rifles or shotguns any differently,” said Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach “We need to learn from every mass shooting. We learned from the tragedy in Parkland that someone under 21 bought a gun that was designed for the military and committed horrific acts. Delaware needs to lead on this issue. We may not be able to stop every mass shooting, but we can try to help minimize the impacts.”

According to the Giffords Law Center, two other states, Hawaii and Illinois, require a person to be 21 to purchase a long gun. The others, including Delaware, follow the federal requirement of 18 years of age.

“One thing is clear: the status quo on gun safety isn’t working,” said Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride, D-Hawk’s Nest, the lead Senate sponsor. “As far as I’m concerned, nothing should be off the table when it comes to the safety of our schools, our workplaces, and our places of worship. Owning a firearm is a huge responsibility, and it seems backwards to me that we would allow anyone to buy a gun before we even trusted them with alcohol. We have to do more on gun safety – but this is a good start.”

HB 330 would still allow a parent or guardian to purchase a firearm for their children, and it would not affect current law on possessing a firearm.

National chains Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods announced Wednesday that they are raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm in their stores to 21 years old.

President Trump has recently voiced his support for increasing the age for purchasing a firearm to 21 years old, which Rep. Schwartzkopf said is an indication that this is not a partisan issue.

HB 330, which has 23 co-sponsors, has been assigned to the House Administration Committee.