Ammunition Regulation in Delaware

Persons Prohibited from Purchasing/Possessing Ammunition

Delaware prohibits the purchase, ownership, possession or control of ammunition by the same categories of persons who are ineligible to purchase or possess firearms under state law.1 See the Delaware Prohibited Purchasers Generally section for these prohibited categories.

Minimum Age to Purchase/Possess Ammunition

Delaware prohibits the transfer of ammunition to persons under age 18, unless the person transferring the ammunition is the minor’s parent or guardian or first receives the permission of the minor’s parent or guardian.2

Delaware does not:

  • Require a license for the sale of ammunition;
  • Require sellers of ammunition to maintain a record of the purchasers;
  • Require a license to purchase or possess ammunition; or
  • Prohibit the possession, transfer or use of armor-piercing or other unreasonably dangerous ammunition, although the federal prohibition on certain kinds of armor-piercing ammunition applies.

See our Ammunition Regulation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11 § 1448. ⤴︎
  2. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11 § 1445(4). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Delaware

See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on a prospective purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Delaware is not a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks. In Delaware, all firearms transfers by licensed dealers are processed directly through the FBI, which enforces the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.1 Delaware law provides that a licensed firearms dealer may not sell, transfer or deliver any firearm to another unlicensed person until the dealer has conducted a background check.2 Generally, the transfer may only be completed if the licensed dealer is informed by the FBI NICS Section that it may “proceed,” however, if 25 days elapse from the time the background check is requested by the licensed dealer, and the FBI still has not issued a denial, then the transfer may proceed.3 Delaware requires unlicensed sellers to request a licensed dealer to facilitate a firearms transaction, including conducting a background check, prior to transferring a firearm to another unlicensed person.4

Delaware also requires the following agencies or entities to submit to the NICS system clinical mental health and other information to comply with federal laws relating to the purchase or transfer of firearms:

  • The Delaware Psychiatric Center and any other hospital as defined in Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5001(4). Such information shall include only names and other nonclinical identifying information of persons so committed;5
  • Hospitals and residential centers;6
  • Institutions to which individuals are committed for criminal convictions, declarations of not guilty by reason of mental illness, or declarations of incompetency to stand trial for criminal offenses, or for involuntarily commitments for mental illness;7 and
  • The Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.8
Notes
  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map (last visited Oct. 3, 2014). ⤴︎
  2. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448A(a), (g). ⤴︎
  3. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448A(b). ⤴︎
  4. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(a). ⤴︎
  5. Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5161(b)(14). ⤴︎
  6. Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5161(b)(13)(g). ⤴︎
  7. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 8509 ⤴︎
  8. Del. Code Ann. tit. 29, § 9017(c). ⤴︎

Child Access Prevention in Delaware

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.

Notes
  1. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 603. A juvenile is a person less than 18 years of age. Del. Code Ann. Del. Code Ann. tit. 1, § 701. ⤴︎
  2. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 603. ⤴︎
  3. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1456(a). ⤴︎
  4. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1456(b). ⤴︎
  5. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1445(3). ⤴︎

Concealed Weapons Permitting in Delaware

See our Carrying Concealed Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Delaware is a “may issue” state, meaning that the Superior Court in the county where the applicant resides has discretion in determining whether or not to issue a concealed deadly weapons license to an applicant. Delaware prohibits carrying a concealed deadly weapon upon or about the person without a license.1

A “person of full age2 and good moral character desiring to be licensed to carry a concealed deadly weapon for personal protection or the protection of the person’s property may be licensed to do so” if the person:

  • Applies in writing to the Prothonotary of the county in which the applicant resides, at least 15 days before the next term of the Superior Court, stating that he or she seeks a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon for personal protection or protection of property, or both;
  • Files with his or her application a certificate signed by five respectable citizens of the county in which the applicant resides, stating that the applicant is “of full age, sobriety and good moral character,” has a good reputation for peace and good order, and that possession of a concealed deadly weapon by the applicant is necessary for the protection of the applicant or the applicant’s property, or both;
  • Verifies his or her application by oath or affirmation in writing before a state-authorized officer, and states in writing that the applicant’s certificate and recommendations were read to or by its five signers and that the signatures are authentic; and
  • For an applicant’s initial license only, files a notarized certificate signed by a firearms training instructor or other authorized representative noting that the applicant has satisfied state firearms training requirements (see the Firearms Safety Training subsection below for further information).3

The Prothonotary of the county in which an application for a license is filed must provide notice of the application by way of publication in a newspaper of general circulation published in the county at least 10 days before the next term of the Superior Court.4

In addition, the Prothonotary must provide the Superior Court all applications for licenses, and the court, at its discretion, may hear evidence and arguments for and against an application.5 Delaware’s Attorney General also has discretion to issue, on a limited basis, a temporary license to carry concealed a deadly weapon to any individual who is not a Delaware resident, and whom the Attorney General determines has a short-term need to carry a weapon within the State in conjunction with that individual’s employment for the protection of person or property.6

The fee for an application for a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon is $65.7 Notwithstanding any other law or regulation, any license issued under these provisions is void and automatically repealed if the license holder becomes prohibited from owning, possessing or controlling a deadly weapon under state law.8

Firearm Safety Training

An applicant for a concealed deadly weapon must file, with an initial license only, a notarized certificate signed by an instructor or authorized representative of a sponsoring agency, school, organization or institution certifying that the applicant: 1) has completed a firearms training course which contains at least the minimum training elements (listed below); and 2) is sponsored by a federal, state, county or municipal law enforcement agency, college, nationally recognized organization that customarily offers firearms training or a firearms training school with instructors certified by a nationally recognized organization that customarily offers firearms training.9

Firearms training courses must include instruction regarding:

  • Knowledge and safe handling of firearms;
  • Safe storage of firearms and child safety;
  • Knowledge and safe handling of ammunition;
  • Safe storage of ammunition and child safety;
  • Safe firearms shooting fundamentals;
  • Federal and state laws pertaining to the lawful purchase, ownership, transportation, use and possession of firearms;
  • State laws pertaining to the use of deadly force for self-defense; and
  • Techniques for avoiding a criminal attack and how to manage a violent confrontation, including conflict resolution.

Delaware also requires that applicants complete live fire shooting exercises on a range, including the expenditure of a minimum of 100 rounds of ammunition, and receive instruction identifying ways to develop and maintain firearm shooting skills.10

Duration & Renewal

An initial license to carry a concealed deadly weapon is valid for three years.11

Renewals are valid for a period of five years. Renewal applicants must file an affidavit stating that the carrying of a concealed deadly weapon remains necessary for personal protection or protection of the person’s property, or both, and the person possesses all the requirements for the issuance of a license. The Superior Court, upon good cause presented to it, may inquire into the renewal request and deny the same for good cause shown. The fee for renewal is $65.12

Disclosure or Use of Information

Every law enforcement officer of the state and of any political subdivision must transmit to the Delaware State Bureau of Identification (SBI) the fingerprints, photographs and other data prescribed by SBI’s Director for all individuals applying for a permit to carry concealed deadly weapons.13 Records which disclose the identity or address of any person holding a permit to carry a concealed deadly weapon are not considered public records under Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act, and thus are not generally subject to public disclosure.14 All records relating to concealed deadly weapon permits shall be available to bona fide law-enforcement officers, however.15

Reciprocity

Delaware’s Attorney General is required to publish on January 15th of each year a list of all states which have qualified for reciprocity of concealed weapon licenses/permits from Delaware.16 The list of states with which Delaware has established reciprocity can be found on the Delaware Department of Justice’s Concealed Deadly Weapons Reciprocity page.

Delaware gives full faith and credit to all state-authorized licenses/permits issued to the citizens of other states where the issuing states also give full faith and credit to licenses issued by Delaware, and where those licenses/permits afford a “reasonably similar degree of protection” as is provided by licensure in Delaware.17 The term “reasonably similar” does not preclude alternative or differing provisions nor a different source and process by which eligibility is determined. If there is evidence of a pattern of issuing licenses/permits to convicted felons in another state, however, the Attorney General must not include that state on the list even if the law of that state is determined to be “reasonably similar.” The list is valid for one year and any removal of a state from the list may not occur without one year’s notice of such impending removal.18

Notes
  1. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, §§ 1442. ⤴︎
  2. Full age is defined as 18 years or older. See Del. Code Ann. tit. 1, § 701. ⤴︎
  3. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1441(a)(1)-(3). ⤴︎
  4. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, 1441(b). ⤴︎
  5. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1441(c), (d). ⤴︎
  6. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1441(k). ⤴︎
  7. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1441(a)(4). Additional application and background check requirements are detailed under Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1441. ⤴︎
  8. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1441(m). ⤴︎
  9. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1441(a)(3). ⤴︎
  10. Id. ⤴︎
  11. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1441(a)(5). ⤴︎
  12. Id. ⤴︎
  13. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 8507(a)(3). ⤴︎
  14. Del. Code Ann. tit. 29, § 10002(g)(11). ⤴︎
  15. Id. ⤴︎
  16. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1441(j). ⤴︎
  17. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1441(j). ⤴︎
  18. Id. ⤴︎

Dealer Regulations in Delaware

Any person seeking to engage in the business of selling deadly weapons “made especially for the defense of one’s person,” which specifically includes handguns, must acquire a “special license to sell deadly weapons.”1 The license is valid until the first day of June following the license’s issuance.2 An application fee of $50 must accompany an application for a license to conduct such business or an application for renewal of such license.3

Prior to transferring any firearm, a dealer must, conduct a background check of the potential purchaser or transferee.4 See the Delaware Background Checks section for further information.

Firearms Dealer Recordkeeping

Dealers are required to keep and maintain a record of all deadly weapons sales, including the date of the sale, the name and address of the purchaser, the number and kind of deadly weapons purchased, the age of the purchaser, and the picture identification used.5 The record must be kept at the place of business and be open for inspection by any judge, justice of the peace, police officer, constable or other peace officer of the state “at all times.”6

Employee Background Checks

Dealers must keep a list of all current employees, conduct annual criminal background checks on these employees,7 and maintain a record of the results of the employee background checks.8 The employee lists and background check records are considered confidential but must be open for inspection by state or local law enforcement. Dealers must not knowingly allow any employee who is prohibited from possessing a deadly weapon under state law to sell or transfer a deadly weapon.9

Private Sale Background Checks

Licensed dealers are required to facilitate the transfer of a firearm at the request of any unlicensed seller by conducting a background check on the prospective buyer.10 Both the unlicensed seller and prospective purchaser must appear together at the licensed dealer’s place of business to complete the background check and transaction. The sale cannot proceed if the prospective buyer is prohibited from possessing, purchasing or owning a firearm under state law.11 Licensed dealers must maintain records of the background checks that are conducted for transfers between private parties.12 Failure or refusal by the dealer to facilitate the transfer of a firearm pursuant to these procedures is adequate cause to suspend the dealer’s license for up to 30 days per occurrence.13 See the Private Sales in Delaware section for further information.

See our Dealer Regulations policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, § 901. ⤴︎
  2. Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, § 902. ⤴︎
  3. Id. ⤴︎
  4. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448A(a). ⤴︎
  5. Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, § 904(a). ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎
  7. As per the background check procedures outlined under Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448A. ⤴︎
  8. Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, § 904(b). ⤴︎
  9. Id. ⤴︎
  10. See Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, § 904A(b). ⤴︎
  11. Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, § 904A(b)(1)-(3). ⤴︎
  12. Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, § 904A(b)(4). ⤴︎
  13. Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, § 904A(b)(6).  No license shall be restricted, suspended or revoked unless the holder is given notice and an opportunity to be heard under the Administrative Procedures Act.  Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, § 904A(7). ⤴︎

Disarming Prohibited Persons in Delaware

Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on June 27, 2018, Delaware enacted an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law that enables individuals who are most likely to notice the warning signs of violence– family and household members and law enforcement officers– to petition a court to remove guns from a person in crisis. In Delaware, these orders are called Lethal Violence Protection Orders. If the court determines that the person (known as a “respondent”) poses a significant risk of harm to himself, herself, or others, it will issue an order prohibiting the respondent from purchasing or possessing guns for one year.1 An individual subject to an ERPO must relinquish his or her guns to law enforcement. Law enforcement officers may also petition for an emergency order, which only requires a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that there is an immediate and present danger.2 An emergency order lasts for fifteen days, and can be extended up to forty-five days.3 Read more about these types of laws on our policy page, Extreme Risk Protection Orders.

Persons Reported by Licensed Mental Health Practitioners

Under certain circumstances, licensed mental health practitioners are required to report to law enforcement about patients who explicitly threaten to cause serious harm to a person or property or the mental health practitioner otherwise concludes the patient is likely to do so. ((Del. Code Ann. tit. 16 § 5402.)) Upon receipt of the information, law enforcement shall use that information to determine whether there is probable cause that the patient is dangerous to him- or herself or others. If so, the law enforcement agency must seek a Lethal Violence Protection Order and refer the the report to the state Department of Justice.4

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Delaware also has laws requiring the surrender or removal of firearms from domestic violence abusers subject to protective orders who have become prohibited from possessing them. See the Delaware Domestic Violence & Firearms section for further information.

Notes
  1. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10 § 7704. ⤴︎
  2. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10 § 7703. ⤴︎
  3. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10 § 7703(f). ⤴︎
  4. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11 § 1448C(b). ⤴︎

Domestic Violence & Firearms in Delaware

Delaware has no law regarding the removal or surrender of firearms at the scene of a domestic violence incident.

Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Misdemeanants

Delaware prohibits the purchase, ownership, possession or control of any firearm or ammunition by any person who has been convicted in any court of any misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.1 “Misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” means any misdemeanor offense that:

  • Was committed by a:
    • Member of the victim’s family2 (regardless, however, of the state of residence of the parties);
    • Former spouse of the victim;
    • Person who co-habited with the victim at the time of the offense or within the past three years3 ;
    • Person with a child in common with the victim; or
    • Person with whom the victim had a substantive dating relationship4, at the time of or within 3 years prior to the offense5; and
  • Is an offense specifically defined under the Delaware Code.6

Unlike federal law, Delaware only prohibits firearm purchase or possession by domestic violence misdemeanants for five years following conviction.7

Firearm Prohibitions for Persons Subject to Domestic Violence Protective Orders

Delaware prohibits the purchase, ownership, possession or control of any firearm or ammunition by any person subject to a Family Court protection from abuse order (other than an ex parte order), but only for so long as that order remains in effect or is not vacated or otherwise terminated.8

Removal or Surrender of Firearms When Domestic Violence Protective Orders Are Issued

Delaware authorizes, but does not require, courts to issue protective orders that direct the abuser to surrender all firearms in his or her possession. As part of a protective order, the court may order that the respondent temporarily relinquish all the firearms he or she owns to a police officer or federally licensed firearms dealer.9

In 2015, Delaware strengthened its law disarming a person subject to a protective order. Under the 2015 law10, if the protective order requires the respondent to relinquish his or her firearms, it must also:

  • Prohibit the respondent from purchasing, receiving or controlling any additional guns or ammunition for the duration of the order;
  • State that firearms shall be relinquished immediately to a police officer if requested by the police officer upon personal service of the protective order. If no request is made by a police officer, the relinquishment shall occur within 24 hours of personal service of the order at any staffed police station or a federally-licensed firearms dealer located in Delaware; and
  • Require the respondent to file, within 48 hours of personal service:
    • A certification, signed under penalty of perjury, that the respondent did not own, possess, or control any firearms at the time of the order and currently does not own, possess, or control any firearms;
    • A copy of a proof of transfer showing, for each firearm owned, possessed, or controlled by the respondent at the time of the order, that the firearm was relinquished to a police officer or a federally-licensed firearms dealer located in Delaware; or
    • A certification, signed under penalty of perjury, for each firearm owned, possessed, or controlled by the respondent at the time of the order, that the respondent is unable to obtain access to the firearm, specifying the location of the firearm and the reason why the respondent is unable to obtain access.11

Delaware courts issuing protective orders also may direct law enforcement to, forthwith, search for and seize a respondent’s firearms upon a showing by the petitioner of the order that respondent has firearms in his or her possession, and:

  • The petitioner can describe, with sufficient particularity, the type and location of the firearm or firearms; and
  • Respondent has used or threatened to use a firearm against the petitioner, or the petitioner expresses a fear that the respondent may us a firearm against the petitioner.12

See our Domestic Violence and Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448(a)(7). ⤴︎
  2. The term “family” is defined Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 901(12). ⤴︎
  3. Part of this provision was enacted in 2015 as part of SB 83, and does not go into effect until January 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  4. Factors to consider for a substantive dating relationship may include the length of the relationship, or the type of relationship, or the frequency of interaction between the parties. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 1041(2)(b). ⤴︎
  5. Part of this provision was enacted in 2015 as part of SB 83, and does not go into effect until January 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  6. These prohibited offenses are listed under Delaware Code Ann. Title 11 §§ 601, 602, 603, 611, 614, 621, 625, 628, 763, 765, 766, 767, 781, 785 or 791, or any similar offense when committed or prosecuted in another jurisdiction. ⤴︎
  7. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448(d). ⤴︎
  8. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448(a)(6). This provision does not apply to a contested order issued solely upon Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 1041(1)(d), (e), or (h), or any combination thereof. ⤴︎
  9. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 1045(a)(8); however, the provision allowing a person to relinquish his or her firearms to a federally licensed firearms dealer takes effect on January 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  10. 2015 SB 83, which will go into effect on January 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  11. 2015 SB 83, to be codified at Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 1045(g) as of January 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  12. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 1045(a)(11). ⤴︎