Delaware prohibits a parent, guardian or other person legally charged with the care or custody of a child less than 18 years old from knowingly, intentionally or with criminal negligence contributing to or failing to prevent the unlawful possession or purchase of a firearm by a juvenile.1 A defendant may raise as an “absolute” defense to charges for violation of this provision that he or she: 1) had a lock on the trigger of the firearm and did not tell or show the juvenile where the key to the trigger lock was kept; or 2) locked the firearm in a key or combination locked container and did not tell or show the juvenile where the key was kept or what the combination was.2
In addition, Delaware prohibits any person from allowing a minor access to a firearm when the person intentionally or recklessly stores or leaves a loaded firearm within the reach or easy access of a minor, and where the minor obtains the firearm and uses it to inflict serious physical injury or death upon the minor or any other person.3 If an adult is prosecuted under this section, he or she may raise the following affirmative defenses:
- The firearm was stored in a locked box or container or in a location which a reasonable person would have believed to be secure from access to a minor;
- The minor obtained the firearm as the result of an unlawful entry by any person; or
- The serious physical injuries or death to the minor or any other person resulted from a target accident, sport shooting accident or hunting accident.4
A parent is criminally liable for “unlawfully dealing with a dangerous weapon” when he or she permits his or her child under age 16 to possess a firearm unless under the direct supervision of an adult.5
State administrative regulations may also govern the storage of firearms in specific locations in Delaware.
See our Child Access Prevention policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.