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, it is a misdemeanor to intentionally or recklessly store or leave a loaded and unsecured firearm where a minor or other prohibited person can, and does, access it, and: (1) the firearm was not stored in a locked box or container; (2) the firearm was not disabled by a trigger lock; (3) the firearm was not stored “in a location that a reasonable person would have believed to be secure”; and (4) the “unauthorized person did not obtain the firearm as the result of an unlawful entry by any person.”3

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.4

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). If the minor or other prohibited person attempts or commits a crime with the firearm, uses the firearm to inflict serious injury or death upon him/herself or someone else, or transfers or attempts to transfer the firearm to another minor or prohibited person, it is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,300 fine. Id. § 1456(c)(2). Otherwise, it is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in prison and up to a $1,150 fine. Id. § 1456(c)(1). ⤴︎
  4. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1445(3). ⤴︎