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Know the Laws: Delaware

UPDATED April 12, 2017

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WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get help from an organization in your area if you are dealing with an issue involving firearms.  To find help in your state, please click on the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.

Guns and Criminal Convictions

back to topIf the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

Delaware state law makes it illegal for the following criminals to possess a firearm:

  • someone convicted in Delaware or elsewhere of a felony or a crime of violence involving physical injury to another -- it doesn't matter if s/he had any weapon during crime;
  • any person who has been convicted for the unlawful use, possession or sale of a narcotic, dangerous drug, central nervous system depressant or stimulant, or controlled substance;
  • any person (until that person turns age 25), who, as a juvenile, has been adjudicated as delinquent for conduct which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a felony;
  • any person who, knowing that s/he is the defendant or co-defendant in any criminal felony case, s/he becomes a "fugitive from justice" by failing to appear for any scheduled court proceeding; or
  • any person who has been convicted in any court of any misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.  For purposes of this paragraph, the term “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” means any misdemeanor offense that:
    • was committed by a member of the victim's family; by a former spouse of the victim; by a person who co-habitated with the victim at the time of the offense; or by a person with a child in common with the victim; and
    • is one of the offenses listed in the Delaware criminal law 11 Del. Code § 1448 (which you can find here - see section (a)(7)(b)) - or any similar offense when committed or prosecuted in another state.*

In addition, under federal law, if the abuser has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, s/he cannot have or buy a gun.**  If you're not sure if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, see What crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors? on our Federal Gun Laws page for the federal definition. 

* 11 Del. Code § 1448(a)
** 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9)

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back to topHow can I find out if my abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony?

Domestic Violence misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access. If you know the exact courthouse where your abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NCIS. Your local police department may be willing to search NCIS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

To read more about the NCIS, please see the question, What will happen if my abuser tries to purchase a gun?

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