Smallest U.S. States Pass Big Gun Control Legislation

Written by Orchid

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June 21, 2022

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White text atop red background next to flags of Rhode Island and Delaware

Of all 50 U.S. states, Rhode Island and Delaware are the smallest in total area. However, recent action by legislatures in both states will have a big impact on local gun owners and some 876 combined FFLs.

In the past week, six different gun control bills – three in Rhode Island and three in Delaware – have moved their way through state legislature chambers to the respective desks of Governors Dan McKee and John Carney, both staunch Democrats. Relating to magazine capacity, age restrictions, firearm possession, and background checks, all legislation is expected to be signed into law.

Below, we’ll summarize the provisions of each of the bills and their impact.

Rhode Island Legislation

The following three bills were signed into law by Governor Dan McKee on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. After signing, the governor tweeted out, “The work isn’t over, but today we made progress.”

RI H6614 Known as “Rhode Island Large Capacity Feeding Device Ban Act of 2022;” makes it a felony for an individual to possess any semiautomatic firearm magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

  • Defines “large capacity feeding device” as capable of holding or can readily be extended to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
  • Allows large capacity feeding devices to be permanently modified to not hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
  • Does not apply to FFLs, active and retired law enforcement, and active military.
  • Those convicted shall be punished by imprisonment up to 5 years or by a fine of $4,000–5,000, and the large capacity feeding device subject to forfeiture.

Now signed, Rhode Island joins 10 existing U.S. states/districts with magazine capacity limits of 10 rounds. Prior to Tuesday, Massachusetts was the last state to restrict magazine capacity, implementing its law in March 2022.

RI S2637A Increases the age for the lawful sale of firearms or ammunition from 18 to 21 years.

  • Amends Sections 11-47-30, 11-47-33, 11-47-35.2 and 11-47-37 of General Laws.
  • Prohibits the sale of rifles and shotguns and ammunition to any person under the age of 21.
  • Requires persons be 21 years of age and hold a valid pistol/revolver safety certificate or Rhode Island hunter education course card to purchase ammunition.
  • Prohibits possession of firearms by a minor unless in the presence of a parent, guardian or supervising adult.
  • Removes firearms permits for minors.
  • Does not apply to full-time law enforcement or active duty military.

Similar to recent New York legislation, by raising the age requirement of rifles and shotguns, Rhode Island residents must be 21 years of age to purchase and possess any firearm.

RI S2825 Makes it unlawful to possess a loaded rifle or shotgun in public.

  • Amends Sections 11-47-2 and 11-47-51 of General Laws.
  • Defines “rifle” and “shotgun” per National Firearms Act (26 U.S.C. § 5845 (c); 26 U.S.C. § 5845 (d))
  • Applies to rifles and shotguns in vehicles and along any public roadway.
  • Does not apply to persons legally engaged in hunting activity.
  • Those convicted shall be punished by imprisonment up to 5 years or by a fine of $5,000, or both.

Delaware Legislation

At the time of this writing, the three bills below have been transmitted to Governor John Carney and are expected to be signed into law soon.

DE HB423Would establish a state point of contact (POC) to conduct background checks for firearm purchases and transfers.

  • Amends Chapter 85, Title 11 of Delaware Code.
  • Establishes Firearm Transaction Approval Program (FTAP) within the State Bureau of Identification (SBI) of the Delaware State Police to serve as the point of contact (POC) between FFLs and federal databases checked by the FBI for purposes of conducting background checks for firearm purchases and transfers.
  • SBI shall conduct background checks required for the lawful sale, transfer or delivery of firearms under federal and state law.

If signed into law, Delaware would join 14 states/territories identified as “Full POC States,” in which FFLs contact the state for all firearm background checks. Six states are labeled “Partial POC States,” in which the state is only contacted for handguns or handgun permits.

DE HB450 Known as “Delaware Lethal Firearms Safety Act of 2022;” would prohibit the manufacture, sale, transfer, purchase, receipt, possession, or transport of assault weapons.

  • Amends Subchapter VII, Chapter 5, Title 11 of Delaware Code.
  • Defines and provides specific examples of “assault long gun,” “assault pistol,” and “assault weapon.”
  • Prohibits the manufacture, sale, transfer, purchase, receipt, possession, or transport of assault weapons in the state.
  • Does not prohibit the possession or transport of firearms that were lawfully possessed or purchased before the Act’s effective date, with exceptions.
  • Directs Department of Safety and Homeland Security to develop a procedure for issuance of a voluntary certificate of possession to show lawful possession of an assault weapon prior to the Act’s effective date.
  • Does not apply to U.S. government personnel, military, law enforcement, or FFLs, with restrictions.
  • Unlawful manufacture, sale, transport, transfer, purchase, receipt, or possession of assault weapons is a class E or F felony.

If signed into law, Delaware would join eight existing U.S. states/districts with bans on assault weapons.

DE SB6Known as “Delaware Large-Capacity Magazine Prohibition Act of 2022;” would prohibit the manufacture, sale, purchase, receipt, transfer, or possession of large-capacity magazines.

  • Amends Subchapter VII, Chapter 5, Title 11 of Delaware Code.
  • Defines “large-capacity magazine” as any ammunition feeding device capable of accepting or that can readily be converted to hold more than 17 rounds of ammunition.
  • Prohibits the manufacture, sale, purchase, receipt, transfer, or possession of a large-capacity magazine.
  • Allows large-capacity feeding devices to be permanently modified to not hold more than 17 rounds of ammunition.
  • Establishes a buyback program for large-capacity magazines, to be overseen by the Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
  • Does not apply to S. government personnel, military, active and retired law enforcement, or FFLs, with restrictions.
  • Violations range from a fine of $100 for first offense to a class E felony for third offense.

If signed into law, Delaware would join 11 existing U.S. states/districts with magazine capacity limits, albeit with the highest capacity of such states.

To stay informed of the latest firearms legislation and its potential impact on your FFL, contact our in-house legal and compliance professionals and follow Orchid news for more industry updates.

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