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
Delaware does not require a locking device to accompany the sale of a firearm, although federal law applies, and no state statutes require firearm owners to affirmatively lock their weapons.
See our Safe Storage policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
- 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. ⤴︎
- Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 603. ⤴︎
- 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). ⤴︎