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Delawareans turn over high-capacity firearm magazines

About 700 devices exchanged for money at three buyback events

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Delawareans in all three counties exchanged more than 691 high-capacity firearm magazines for money at buyback events Nov. 16 and 19.

At the end of the program, conducted by the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the state had paid out $12,525 to participants.

The events took place at Delaware State Police Troop 4 in Georgetown, Troop 3 in Camden and Troop 2 in New Castle. Safety and Homeland Security oversees the state police.

According to department spokesman Arshon Howard, “Our department was tasked with establishing a program to comply with the new state law and offer a compensation program to residents. We are pleased that we were able to serve all who chose to participate.”

The buyback effort derived from the Large Capacity Magazine Prohibition Act of 2022, signed into law by Gov. John Carney in June. The act also bans magazines with a capacity to accept more than 17 rounds of ammunition, the manufacture and sale of such devices, and possession of them during the commission of a felony.

That legislation has its dissenters, however.

From the view of Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association president Jeff Hague of Ellendale, “We felt that the bill calling for the program and banning anything over 17 rounds was illegal. So from that point of view, the program wasn’t necessary and was a waste of state resources.

“And there’s the premise that the state is buying something back, and you can’t buy something back that you never owned in the first place.”

With the program, residents were eligible to receive fair-market compensation for any magazine with the capacity to hold more than 17 rounds of ammunition when relinquished to law enforcement, Mr. Howard said.

In accordance with the initative's regulations, he added, magazines collected at the events will be destroyed through crushing, melting or shredding. No future buybacks are planned at this time.

Delawareans providing valid proof of residency received $15 for an 18- to 30-round magazine, $25 for a magazine of 31 rounds or greater and $80 for a large-capacity magazine drum.

And, as to the impact, Mr. Howard said, “Our focus is always about public safety, and every effort to reduce gun violence in our state will contribute to the overall safety of our Delaware communities. We appreciate everyone’s effort to reduce gun violence and those who participated in the buyback events.”

Of the 18- to 30-round magazines, 234 were collected in New Castle County, 179 in Kent and 73 in Sussex.

In New Castle County, police collected 95 magazines of 31-plus rounds, while 61 were received in Kent and 47 in Sussex.

New Castle and Sussex each yielded one magazine drum.

The program was open to individuals only and not wholesale, retail, manufacturer and distributor entities. Anonymous relinquishments were permitted, though no compensation was provided for those.

Limitation of high-capacity magazines was part of a six-bill package of legislation designed to address gun violence in Delaware. They all became law in June.

Other acts covered :

  • Banning the sale of assault weapons.
  • Raising the age to purchase most firearms from 18 to 21.
  • Strengthening background checks by reinstituting the Firearm Transaction Approval Program.
  • Holding gun manufacturers and dealers liable for reckless or negligent actions that lead to gun violence.
  • Banning the use of devices that convert handguns into fully automatic weapons.

Upon enacting the laws, Gov. Carney said, “We have an obligation to do everything we can to prevent tragedies like we’ve seen around the country from happening here in Delaware. We are not waiting to do what’s right — to take steps that will make our state safer.

“This historic gun safety legislation would not have been possible without the dedication of advocates who demanded action across our state.”

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