Delaware Gun Laws

Gun Laws in Delaware

In Delaware, prospective purchasers of handguns and non-shotgun long guns must be of legal age (21 and over), possess valid state identification, and successfully pass a Federal background check. Under this three-pronged approach, Delaware authorities have implemented strict regulations to ensure the safety of firearm users and the public at large.

The requirement for state-registered ID provides added assurance that buyers are legally eligible to make such purchases, while the mandated background check allows authorities to identify any potential red flags before a gun is purchased. By upholding these stringent measures, Delaware has sought to promote responsible firearm use while maintaining the highest standards of public safety.

Permits are only necessary to carry handguns in the state of Delaware and not necessary to carry rifles or shotguns. Permits to purchase, the registration of, and owner licensing for shotguns, rifles, and handguns is not needed in Delaware. The only stipulation for purchasing shotguns and rifles is that the individual must be over eighteen years of age. Individuals must be over twenty-one years of age to purchase handguns in Delaware.

Delaware LawsPurchasing firearms in general does take extra work. Before a purchase is made, each buyer must have his or her background checked for criminal history records. But when a firearm is bought from an antique store, the background check is unnecessary. This is also true for those who hold concealed weapons permits.

Delaware is situated on the Atlantic Coast. It is surrounded on the south and west by Maryland, and bordered to the east by New Jersey. Pennsylvania is found just to the north. Delaware is a small state in area, with a population of about 934,000 total. It is divided into three counties, two of which are agricultural, and one of which is industrial. Open carry is legal in Delaware even without a license to carry.

Possessing Firearms in Delaware

Certain firearms are even banned from being inside the state, such as shotguns with sawed-off barrels that are eighteen inches or less. If the shotgun is shorter than twenty-six inches then it is illegal. The state of Delaware sets guidelines for who is allowed to possess firearms. Prohibited individuals include any individual who has been convicted of a felony; any individual who has been convicted of a violent crime where another person received bodily injury; individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanors and have yet to reach the five-year statute; individuals who have been convicted of possessing dangerous drugs, narcotics, or controlled substances; and any individual who has been committed to a sanitarium, mental institution, or mental hospital and left without a rehabilitation certificate.

Individuals under the age of sixteen are not allowed to possess firearms without adult supervision. Adjudicated juveniles who are under the age of twenty-five lose their right to bear arms if they have been convicted of a crime that would otherwise be treated as an adult felony. Delaware states that selling, transferring, or giving a firearm to a prohibited individual is a felony as is it to purchase a firearm from a prohibited individual. Individuals who are under the age of sixteen are by law not allowed to possess BB guns or any other form of firearm without direct adult supervision. Possessing a spring-fired gun or an air gun that is larger than a BB gun qualifies as a misdemeanor in Delaware.

Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

Delaware requires a permit in order to carry a concealed firearm in a vehicle. People without a permit may carry a handgun in their vehicle so long as it is in plain view and can be seen from outside the vehicle, such as on the dashboard or passenger seat.

Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes. There is no law stating it is illegal. You can carry in a restaurant that serves alcohol. Places like Fridays or Chili’s unless they have a “No Gun Sign,” then it is suggested that you not carry into the establishment. This does not include a bar or the bar area of a restaurant. You can carry your firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol, but you are prohibited from consuming alcohol while carrying a firearm.

Universal Background Checks

Background checks are mandatory for all firearm sales, and transfers between private parties, except between family members, must go through a licensed dealer. This does not apply to holders of a valid Delaware carry license.

Self-defense Laws

Delaware has a modified form of Castle Doctrine but no SYG law. There is no duty to retreat when attacked in Your dwelling or place of work, and You may use deadly force in self-defense if You reasonably believe it is imminently necessary to prevent death or SBI, kidnapping, or rape.

Open Carry

Delaware is one of the few states that allow open carry of firearms without a license. However, it is important to note that there are certain restrictions and regulations that must be followed. Under Delaware law, any person who is legally allowed to possess a firearm can open carry in public, as long as the firearm is not concealed.

There are some places where open carry is prohibited, such as schools, government buildings, and places where alcohol is served. Additionally, private property owners have the right to prohibit open carry on their premises, so it is important to be aware of any signage or notices regarding firearms on private property.

Who can legally Open Carry?

In Delaware, like many other states in the United States, you must meet certain criteria to legally open carry a firearm. The state of Delaware requires that a person must be at least 18 years of age and not be disqualified from owning a firearm under state or federal law. You must also be a resident of the state of Delaware or have a valid license to carry a concealed firearm from another state.

You must not have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor of domestic violence. If you have been convicted of a felony, you may be able to restore your gun rights by having your records expunged or by obtaining a pardon from the governor.

Even if you meet all the legal requirements for open carry, private property owners and businesses have the right to prohibit firearms on their premises. It is your responsibility to be aware of and follow the rules and regulations of the property owner.

Places where Open Carry is prohibited

Some of the places where open carry is prohibited in Delaware include schools, state parks, and some government buildings. It’s important to note that private property owners also have the right to prohibit firearms on their premises, so be sure to check for any posted signs or ask for permission before carrying a firearm into a private business or residence.

What to do if you are approached by law enforcement while Open Carrying

It is important to know what to do if you are approached by law enforcement while open carrying. First and foremost, remain calm and keep your hands visible at all times. Do not make any sudden movements or reach for your weapon as this could be interpreted as a threat.

Be respectful and comply with any requests or instructions given by the officer. This may include temporarily disarming yourself or providing your permit or license. Remember, law enforcement officers are there to protect the public and ensure everyone’s safety.

If you feel that your rights are being violated or you are being treated unfairly, remain calm and politely request to speak with a supervisor or an attorney. It is important to know your rights and to be prepared to assert them if necessary.

Reciprocal Carry

By statute, Delaware will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes Delaware’s license:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of this Code to the contrary, the State of Delaware shall give full faith and credit and shall otherwise honor and give full force and effect to all licenses/permits issued to the citizens of other states where those issuing states also give full faith and credit and otherwise honor the licenses issued by the State of Delaware pursuant to this section and where those licenses/permits are issued by authority pursuant to state law and which afford a reasonably similar degree of protection as is provided by licensure in Delaware…”

Delaware’s most up-to-date reciprocity agreement can be viewed online.

Criminal Provisions

Under Delaware law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances, whether it is issued by Delaware, or a person is carrying pursuant to reciprocity between his or her state of license and Delaware:

  • Federal Buildings
  • State-approved “SLOTS”
  • Courthouses, police stations, prisons, and detention facilities
  • State and National Forests and State Parks (in state parks, firearms are allowed for hunting only, no concealed carry)
  • Wildlife Management Areas
  • Shooting from any motor vehicle, motor, or sailboat or while riding in or upon any piece of farm machinery.

Discharge of a firearm within 15 yards of a public road, nor across a public road.

Differences between Open and Concealed Carry

When it comes to carrying a firearm in Delaware, it’s important to understand the difference between open carry and concealed carry. Open carry refers to carrying a firearm in plain sight, while concealed carry refers to carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, such as in a holster or purse.

Delaware is a “may issue” state when it comes to concealed carry permits, meaning that it is up to the discretion of the issuing authority whether or not to grant a permit. Open carry, on the other hand, does not require a permit as long as the person is legally allowed to possess a firearm.

Other Laws

Delaware has a handful of provisions that do not fall under any other category. For instance transferring, possessing, transporting, and licensing to own firearms can be restricted by the municipal governments. If the serial number of a gun has been removed or altered, it is considered a felony to possess or transport the firearm if the manufacture date is after 1973. Laws state that in order to shoot a firearm legally, the individual must be at least fifteen yards away from any road and at least one hundred yards from any building holding people. The law states that it is illegal to allow those under the age of eighteen access to a loaded firearm where the individual may cause bodily injury to another person or himself or herself.

FAQs about Delaware Gun Laws

Is it illegal to carry a gun in Delaware?

In Delaware, it is unlawful for any individual who is not authorized by law to possess, purchase, or transport a firearm. The possession of a loaded handgun in a vehicle or on a person without a permit is also prohibited.

Is AR 15 banned in Delaware?

No, AR 15s are not banned in Delaware; however, they are subject to certain restrictions and regulations that must be followed. Specifically, AR 15s are restricted for use only by those with a valid concealed carry permit.

What guns are restricted in Delaware?

In Delaware, there are several firearms that are restricted and prohibited from ownership or use without obtaining a special permit. These include all automatic weapons, assault weapons such as AR-15s, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, machine guns, sawed-off shotguns or rifles, and silencers.

Do I need a permit to carry a gun in Delaware?

Yes, individuals must obtain a permit issued by the State Police in order to lawfully possess, transport, or carry a handgun in Delaware. Additionally, permits may be required depending on where you plan to shoot your gun.

Can I shoot in my backyard in Delaware?

Yes, you can shoot on private property with permission from the property owner; however, you must abide by local laws regarding the discharge of firearms. Furthermore, shooting within 100 yards of a residence other than your own requires written permission from the property owner.

Is Delaware an open carry state?

No, Delaware is not an open-carry state. Open carry of any kind of firearm (including handguns) is prohibited without a valid permit.

Can I drive through Delaware with a handgun?

Yes, if you have a valid out-of-state permit/license to carry a handgun and the handgun is unloaded and either stored in a closed container or locked in the trunk of your car. However, you may not stop or linger in Delaware for the purpose of possessing firearms if you do not possess a valid Delaware permit/license.

Can my gun be loaded in my car in Delaware?

If you wish to possess a loaded firearm while in a vehicle in Delaware, you must have a valid permit/license issued by the State Police to do so. Otherwise, firearms must be unloaded and either stored in a closed container or secured in the trunk of the car while traveling.

What happens if you get caught with a gun in Delaware?

If you are found to be illegally possessing, transporting, or carrying a firearm in Delaware, depending on the circumstances you may face felony charges. Consequently, penalties could include imprisonment and fines up to $50,000.

Is Delaware a stand-your-ground state?

No, Delaware is not a ‘stand your ground’ state which means the duty to retreat applies when using deadly force in self-defense situations with rare exceptions.

What is the new gun law in Delaware?

In July 2020, Delaware’s House Bill 300 was signed into law creating tighter background checks for firearms purchases, banning bump stocks, and making it illegal for people convicted of violent misdemeanors or domestic violence to possess firearms.

Is it hard to get a concealed carry permit in Delaware?

Obtaining a concealed carry permit involves submitting an application to the State Police which includes payment of a fee along with providing proof of successful completion of an approved firearms safety class and passing of a criminal background check.

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