The state Senate voted mostly along party lines Tuesday to give final approval to two Democratic proposals further restricting gun ownership in Delaware.
The first measure prohibits the purchase or possession of a firearm by anyone who knows that he or she is the subject of a protection-from-abuse, or PFA, order. The purchase prohibition also applies to anyone who knows that he or she is the subject of an arrest warrant or indictment for any felony or any misdemeanor domestic violence charge.
The legislation extends the prohibition on gun purchases and possession involving protection-from-abuse orders to anyone who is subject to an ex-parte order, which is one requested by an opposing party without the subject's knowledge and issued by the court when the subject of the order is not present.
Supporters of the measure say it closes a "loophole" for people who are subject to, but have knowledge of, ex-parte orders.
"Our laws already recognize the serious danger that lives in the intersection between guns and domestic violence," Democratic Attorney General Kathy Jennings said in a prepared statement. "That danger is no less real while the abuser is awaiting a final protection-from-abuse order or trial."
The legislation passed the House unanimously last month and cleared the Senate on a 14-6 vote. Sen. Ernesto Lopez, a Republican from Lewes, sided with majority Democrats on Tuesday, while Smyrna Democrat Bruce Ennis opted not to vote, despite being listed as a co-sponsor on the bill.
Lopez also joined Democrats in voting for a bill that outlaws so-called ghost guns that can't be traced by law enforcement officials because they don't have serial numbers. Ennis and fellow Democrat Stephanie Hansen of Middletown voted against the legislation.
The bill, similar to a measure that failed to get a floor vote last year, makes it a felony to possess or manufacture an untraceable, undetectable or covert firearm.
An undetectable firearm is defined as one constructed entirely of nonmetal substances, or with major components removed, so it is undetectable by walk-through metal detectors. The definition also applies to firearms that include those major components but would not generate an image that accurately depicts the shape of the component.
A covert firearm is defined as one built in a shape that does not resemble a gun. An untraceable firearm is defined as one for which the sale or distribution chain cannot be traced by law enforcement officials.
The bill also criminalizes the sale, transport or possession of an unfinished firearm frame or receiver with no serial number. It also criminalizes the manufacturing or distribution of a firearm made with a 3-D printer, as well as the distribution of instructions on how to manufacture firearm components with a 3-D printer.
Anyone who already possesses an unfinished firearm frame or receiver — a component of a gun that houses the firing mechanism — with no serial number would have 90 days to comply with the law, presumably by destroying or surrendering it.
Senators rejected a proposed amendment by Minority Whip Brian Pettyjohn that would have allowed people who have homemade guns to undergo criminal background checks and obtain serial numbers for their guns from licensed firearms dealers.
Sen. David Lawson, a Republican from Marydel and a retired state trooper and former gun store owner, described the bill as "legislation looking for a problem."
House lawmakers approved the bill on a 23-18 vote last month after removing an exemption for law enforcement officials and members of the military.
While it's unknown whether anyone in Delaware has been injured or killed with a homemade gun, House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, a Democrat from Bear and the bill's chief sponsor, has described the legislation as a preventative measure.
"More than ever before, Delawareans are demanding gun safety and Delaware Democrats are delivering on meaningful legislation that seeks to address this uniquely American epidemic," Senate President Pro Tem Dave Sokola of Newark, a co-sponsor of both bills, said in a prepared statement Tuesday.
Both bills now go to Democratic Gov. John Carney, who is expected to sign them.