Chronister: Women’s Defense Coalition shares thoughts on permits to purchase


Erin Chronister is the president of the Women’s Defense Coalition of Delaware and a firearms instructor.

In response to the Daily State News’ request for comment, the Women’s Defense Coalition of Delaware firmly believes the proposed firearm permitting scheme, Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 2, will create a prohibition for many Delawareans and is subjectively based on implicit biases surrounding the wealth, gender and race of constituents (“Democrats prioritize permit-to-purchase bill after controversial release from committee”).

On the one hand, according to the bill, “if an applicant has resided in the applicant’s county or municipality of residence for less than 5 years, the (State Bureau of Identification) shall contact the local law enforcement agency of each county or municipality in which the applicant has resided for the previous 5 years and inquire as to any facts and circumstances relevant to the person’s qualification for a handgun qualified purchaser permit.” Since other states do not have to comply with Delaware law and requirements, if you’ve recently moved into Delaware, it is not guaranteed other law enforcement agencies will work with Delaware to provide the information requested. This could completely prohibit you from purchasing guns in Delaware.
Additionally, those fleeing domestic violence will be required to wait substantial amounts of time to gain access to a tool that could enhance their safety and preserve their lives, should they decide a firearm is the best tool for them.

For individuals fleeing violence:

  • There is a 75% increase of violence upon separation for at least two years.
  • One-fifth of homicide victims with restraining orders are murdered within two days of obtaining the order, and one-third are murdered within the first month (

“We know the most dangerous time for a woman is when they leave” — Sens. Kyle Evans Gay, D-Talleyville; Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, D-Wilmington; Sarah McBride, D-Wilmington, and Rep. Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear.

The story of a New Jersey woman, Carol Bowne, is the perfect example of how permitting schemes put women at severe risk of death. Time is of the essence. When bringing this story to the attention of Sen. Gay, her response was “She was but one woman.”

“Scheme” is a key word, in our opinion. I guess it’s a good thing subjectivity doesn’t (or shouldn’t) apply to our enshrined rights.

The excessive costs associated with obtaining a permit to purchase a handgun will bar those living at or below the poverty rate, whether or not House Amendment 2 of SS 1 for SB 2 passes. This data does not include those living above the poverty rate, who still don’t make enough to meet the financial burdens incurred by permit to purchase. Estimated course fees and the cost of fingerprinting are merely the tip of an iceberg. For those with no familial support or no close familial support and for single parents, babysitting or day care fees are another obstacle to the training requirement. Other issues arise when taking into consideration a lack of transportation and/or additional burdens unforeseen by those in the legislature who are in far better positions than many of their own constituents.

Those below the poverty rate in Delaware include:

  • 11.4% of the state’s citizens.
  • 12.5% of women.
  • 17.8% of Black residents.
  • 10.5% of Asian residents.
  • 18.2% of Hispanic or Latino residents.
  • 7.5% of older adults.
  • 29.6% of female head of households with children under 18.
  • 36.5% of female head of households with children under 5.

Proximal minority stressors should also be considered as a barrier to the proposed infringements of our Second Amendment.

Proximal minority stressors include, but are not limited to, self-isolation, rejection sensitivity, perceived or experienced racism/bias, internalized transphobia, fear of White male-dominated spaces and/or concealment of sexual orientation/culture due to societal disapproval or disclusion, microaggressions, previous experienced/fear of familial rejection, previous negative experiences with law enforcement, experiences of systemic and systematic oppression, previously experienced abuse or maltreatment, economic hardships and low prosecution rates.

These create undue barriers to accessing education, training, services, supports and rights when permitting schemes are mandated, time limits are imposed and permits expire in just one year.

Again, approval will be dependent on the subjective opinions of each individual’s local law enforcement agency. Considering Sen. Lockman brought in an “expert” witness to declare women incapable of self-protection and based on the fact that the Delaware State Police were caught denying permits to women based on gender and age in 2008, who is to say that someone who subscribes to such biases will not deny a woman’s permit?

As a woman, a simple trip to the wrong gun shop in Delaware will demonstrate just how alive and well those biases are, when the salesperson behind the counter hands you a revolver that “you can throw in your purse” or something small and pink because it’s falsely assumed revolvers and small pistols are “less complicated for women” to operate.

The allowance of subjective opinions based on circumstances surrounding an applicant could lead to the denial of a permit simply because that individual’s local police officers are frequently called to the applicant’s residence due to an abuser’s refusal to adhere to a no-contact order.

Sen. Lockman was not the only lawmaker to subscribe to the belief that women stand a greater chance of dying for simply owning a firearm. Sens. McBride and Gay also shared this sentiment during previous committee hearings.

Our right to protect ourselves is not based on whether or not someone else believes we can. Our rights are inherent, not incidental.

The Women’s Defense Coalition is not all about putting a gun in every woman’s hand. Our mission is to enhance a woman’s safety through information, education, advocacy and training in all defensive systems so that they may choose the tool that best suits their needs and circumstances. The Second Amendment does not simply protect a single object. It is the umbrella under which all modes of self-protection are preserved.

In closing, the Women’s Defense Coalition has organized, hosted and/or provided services to well over 500 Delaware women who can attest that women’s firearm ownership has indeed enhanced their level of safety at home and in public. Through our continued efforts, it is our goal to double our impact within the state to ensure all women know they can be their own best first line of defense.

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