Sussex County Delaware

Guest Commentary:
Senate Bill No. 190

Guest Opinion ...

Good Gun, Bad Gun,
Red Gun, Blue Gun

Matthew Opaliski, Guest Commentary
Guest Commentary

Editor's Note: Matthew Opaliski is a Republican candidate for State Senate in District 19. He resides in Greenwood with his family and can be contacted at home at 349-9356 or by email at

The State Senate is set to vote on a piece of legislation, SB 190, that would heavily restrict the sale of handguns in Delaware.

Under the proposed legislation, there are two new major restrictions that will take effect if passed, one short term and one long term, plus language that suggests the intent to take the scope of these restrictions even further.

First, licensed firearms dealers in Delaware would be required to include an external locking device with the sale, rental or transfer of each handgun manufactured before December 31st of this year.

Second, any handgun manufactured after December 31st of this year could not be offered for sale, sold, rented or transferred unless it had an integrated mechanical safety device.

Therefore, beginning on Jan. 1, 2003, a handgun manufactured after Dec. 31, 2002, without a built-in locking device, could not be legally sold in Delaware.

The legislation defines an "Integrated Mechanical Safety Device" as a disabling or locking device that is built into the handgun and is designed to prevent the handgun from being discharged unless the device has been deactivated.

The sponsors of this legislation, all of whom represent the Wilmington area, are attempting to sugarcoat the intent of the proposed restrictions so as make it appear that the underlying issue is child safety.

"It's strictly about public safety within a home -- it has nothing whatsoever to do with firearms control," said the legislation's primary sponsor, Sen. Robert Marshall, a Wilmington Democrat.

However, I submit that these new restrictions coupled with the language in the proposed legislation are in fact an attempt to restrict handgun sales and thus restrict handgun ownership.

Included in this legislation is language that defines a "Personalized Handgun", yet there are no provisions at this time that show why that language was needed.

That quasi-futuristic term is just sitting idly in the middle of this new legislation, idle for now at least. A "Personalized Handgun" as per this legislation is defined as a handgun manufactured with incorporated design technology allowing it to be fired only by a person who is the authorized user of the handgun and that prevents any of the safety characteristics from being readily deactivated.

If this is not about restriction, if this not about control, then what good reason is there for this language to appear? To put it plainly, this is an undeniable attempt to pass strict and unnecessary legislation, slowly. If this legislation is passed this issue will be revisited, as many times as needed, to incorporate the "Personalized Handgun" language or "Smart Gun Technology" into what would already be far too restrictive regulations on the sale of handguns.

Rather than educate people, namely families and children in the area of firearms safety, a measure that I could wholeheartedly support and a measure that the sponsors claim to care about, this legislation takes a different approach. This legislation seeks to restrict everyone in Delaware that now is or may potentially be a handgun owner. This is feel good legislation, nothing more.

If the sponsors have a real concern for safety in the home, it would make sense to teach safety and personal responsibility to their constituents, not restrict the entire population of eligible law abiding gun owners and business professionals that happen to choose the firearms industry as their means of livelihood.

Firearm manufacturers are not going to cater to a Delaware specific law and redesign their products so as to make them compliant for sale in Delaware. Just as many manufacturers opted to no longer sell their products in California when that state enacted similarly ludicrous legislation. They will simply not offer their products for sale in the first state. This is a fact.

This is how the proposed legislation, SB 190, in a round-about way, seeks to impose a restriction on handgun sales, which will in fact equate to a reduction of handgun sales. This back-door approach to curb handgun sales is painfully obvious to me and so should it be to those that have sponsored this legislation.

Furthermore, those whom this will affect should know this as well, with those affected being every Delaware citizen over the age of 21 and legally able to possess a handgun.

The right to bear arms as per both the United States and Delaware Constitutions, rights that are clearly defined by the 2nd and 20th amendments, respectively, lest we enter a debate on the intent of those amendments, are not subject to question by modern day lawmakers in their quest to satisfy the unfounded concerns of special interest groups.

The 20th amendment to the Delaware Constitution reads as follows -- "A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use".

Nowhere in that text do the terms "Integrated Mechanical Safety Device" or "External Locking Device" appear.

The mere idea that this legislation was even considered, let alone introduced, is an insult to the founders of this state and this nation, people who died to defend what you and I call freedom.

Apparently some Wilmington legislators aren't interested in upholding the state's constitution, something each of them swore to do, as they took office -- in an election year no less.

I would urge that every person who values their rights and in turn refuses to have them stripped by an overbearing legislature take the time to contact their Senator. Stop this legislation in the senate, contact your Senator and ask them to vote "No" on SB 190.

If you are not certain how to contact your local representatives in the state legislature, please feel free to contact me directly and I will get that information to you.

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