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Legal Information: Delaware

State Gun Laws

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March 26, 2024

If 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
  • for a crime of violence, any person who was found (as an adult or a juvenile) to be:
    • not guilty by reason of insanity;
    • guilty but mentally ill;
    • mentally incompetent to stand trial;
  • 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;
      • a former spouse of the victim;
      • a person who cohabited with the victim at the time of the offense or within the three years before the offense;
      • a person who has a child in common with the victim; or
      • a person with whom the victim had a substantive dating relationship at the time of the offense or within the three years before the offense; 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; or
  • any person who is the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant, post-arrest charges, or an active indictment or information for any felony or for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.1

Federal laws, which apply to all states, also restrict a person’s right to have a gun if s/he has been convicted of certain crimes. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 11 Del. Code § 1448(a)

How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?

Misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access. If you know the exact courthouse where the 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 (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

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