Updated: Nov 16, 2022
Is Delaware an open carry state? Yes. Delaware gun laws allow residents who are legally allowed to own a handgun to carry it openly without a permit. There are a lot of important nuances that you must consider; there are many restrictions and best practices.
Here are a dozen tips to help you follow Delaware's gun laws and open carry like a pro.
1) Legally own a handgun.
That may sound like a no-brainer, but some people think because Delaware's open carry laws let people carry without a permit, they can carry a handgun despite not being allowed to own one legally. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) has a list of reasons why some people cannot legally own a gun.
Do you need a pistol permit in Delaware?
Delaware residents do not currently need a pistol permit to purchase a handgun in the state of Delaware.
In Delaware, any resident who can legally own a gun and is at least 18 can open carry.
While federal law says you must be 21 to buy a handgun from a licensed dealer like X-Ring Supply, it also says someone without a license can sell a handgun to someone who is at least 18 and able to own a gun. In Delaware, all sales, even one person to another, must go through a licensed dealer for a background check. X-Ring Supply is happy to help with that.
You can give a gun to a "parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, stepparent, legal guardian, grandparent, child, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepchild, grandchild, sibling, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, spouse, or civil union partner" without going through the transfer process, says state law.
We break down everything you need to know about buying a gun in Delaware, private party firearm sales, gifting firearms to family members and more in our blog post here.
2) Know where you can open carry in Delaware.
Delaware open carry laws cover a lot of territory. If it is private property, you can carry. If you are hunting, you can carry, except during bow season. It's actually easier to list where you cannot carry than where you can.
3) Know where you cannot open carry in Delaware.
Open carry Delaware is not an absolute right. Some many places do not allow it. It is banned in jails, prisons, schools and campuses, school vehicles and anywhere that carry is prohibited by federal law.
State Parks do allow open carry, but do not allow it in many areas. These areas are designated with signage, and include "certain public facilities and designated areas such as park offices, visitor centers, nature centers, bathhouses, restaurants and snack bars, stadiums and facilities while used for events, concerts, and festivals, museums, zoos, stables, educational facilities, dormitories, playgrounds, youth camping areas, swimming pools, guarded beaches, and water parks." Valid concealed carry holders may carry concealed in these designated areas and must be able to produce their permit upon request. For full details about carrying a firearm in Delaware State Parks refer to their website.
Open carry may be denied in municipal buildings, courthouses, polling locations and hospitals. Always make sure to check before entering.
Private businesses can ask you to not openly carry on the premises. If you do not comply, the business can ask you to leave. If you do not leave, then you are breaking the law by trespassing. Handgun Law suggests you print the card "No gun=No Money" and give it to the business and then leave.
4) Be courteous and responsible.
Can you open carry a loaded gun in Delaware? Yes. If you plan to carry, open or concealed, you should make sure the gun is loaded and safely holstered. You should be mindful of what you are doing and if open carrying, how others will react. Be courteous and responsible because our gun rights are constantly under attack. You do not need to give the anti-gunners more reasons, whether valid or not, to fight.
Make this simple. Just because you can, does not mean you should. X-Ring Supply absolutely supports your right to own a gun, we all carry every day. With that said, we also believe in being polite and respectful.
Four cons of open carry are:
• Open carry scares some people. Don't be that person.
• Open carry can make someone who is on the fence about guns suddenly decide to join the anti-gun side or at least start favoring more gun restrictions.
• Open carry exposes your gun. This means you become the first target, or deterrent if things go sideways.
• Open carry, especially in crowds, is definitely an invitation to have someone take your gun away. Open carry also means someone can more easily take your gun anywhere. While the percentage is small, it is still significant; 10 percent of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty by shooting were shot with their own gun.
An article at America's First Freedom, an NRA website, goes into more detail about why open carry is not always a great idea.
5) How to open carry in a car in Delaware.
Delaware open carry in vehicle is legal as long as it is in plain view. Keep your firearm secured on the dash, or on the front seat so it is available but also easy to see.
Delaware open carry in a vehicle is not specifically nor clearly defined in state law. Instead, to know what is allowed and not, you have to look at court cases. The most defining case is Robertson v. State from 1997.
In this case, Floyd Robertson was charged with having a concealed weapon. Officers saw "the butt of a pistol" stick out under the passenger seat. The Delaware Supreme Court said that was good enough for it to be concealed. Robertson's conviction stuck.
The court added, "A person is guilty of carrying a concealed deadly weapon when the person carries concealed a deadly weapon upon or about the person without a license to do so."
At the same time, intent must be considered. In other words, are you trying to hide it? Putting a gun under the seat, in the court's opinion, was an attempt to hide it from "plain view."
Some say you can put the gun on a seat or on the dash, which keeps it open sight. Then you have a loose gun. Yes, you could put it in a holster secured to a seat belt or the dash to keep it from sliding around. If you have passengers, that becomes an issue because you cannot leave a gun lying around where an unauthorized person can easily get to it.
A handgun may be carried in an "inaccessible" part of the vehicle, like the trunk of the car. A glove compartment is generally considered an accessible part of the vehicle. Don't store you gun there unless you have a concealed carry permit. If you have a carry permit, then just leave it where it is on your person.
6) Nonresident Open Carry in Delaware.
Can non residents open carry in Delaware?
Open carry for nonresidents is allowed, pursuant to all the other state and federal regulations.
Delaware accepts carry permits from states that recognize Delaware's permitting system.
As of this blog, this is the current list. It can change. X-Ring Supply keeps the latest list of reciprocity states, so if you plan to visit, contact us to see if your permit is valid.
7) What type of gun can I open carry in Delaware?
You can open carry any legal gun in Delaware. However, if you walk around downtown with an AR-15, this is likely to scare even more people than a Glock 19 on your hip. Don't be that person. You will very quickly find yourself being visited by Delaware’s finest; they will not be happy to have to deal with someone openly carrying a long gun in the wrong places when they should have known better.
Long guns should be unloaded when you put them in a vehicle. In addition to that being law, it is common sense.
8) What type of gun should I open carry in Delaware?
What you should carry is a highly personal decision. The best answer is, carry what you can shoot accurately and safely. A 9mm sub-compact or full size pistol is an excellent all-around choice for open carry. If you are planning on open carrying the pistol, you can easily carry a larger gun than if you were going to conceal it. If you are not sure what is best for you, visit our store at 2201 Ogletown Rd, Newark DE 19711. Our expert staff will walk you through the choices, calibers and types of handguns to get one that is ideal for you.
9) How should I open carry in Delaware?
Can you open carry a loaded gun in Delaware?
You can, and should, carry a loaded gun. Carrying an unloaded gun, or one with an empty chamber increases the time needed to put shots on target in a self-defense situation. When open or concealed carrying a loaded gun, you should always use a high-quality holster that keeps the firearm secure and the trigger safe from interference.
The most common open carry style is to carry on an outside the waistband type holster, either on the hip of on the thigh. We always advise people consider getting their concealed carry permit as it allows many more options on how you can carry. We have an entire article that advises you on how to get your concealed carry permit in Delaware. You should carry in a safe way that protects your sidearm and still allows you access to your EDC. Check out which carry position is best for sitting. Overall, you have a few basic choices:
Outside the Waistband (OWB) - This rides on your hip usually. Modern synthetic holsters, nylon or hardened plastic materials have a locking button or strap that keeps your gun from falling out accidentally. Leather holsters have a strap that holds the handgun in place. Unless you make an effort to hide the gun, such as leaving a shirt hanging over it, this is open carry.
Inside the Waistband (IWB) - This tucks inside your pants and is considered concealed carry. You can carry at the hip, in front close to your navel (Appendix Carry) or the small of your back. Holsters here may have a strap or a lock or may have neither. You must have a permit for concealed carry.
Deep carry - Deep carry can be in your pocket, purse, your ankle or somewhere else well hidden on your person. This is concealed carry and requires a permit. Leather or nylon are the most common materials.
Shoulder carry is not very common and can be concealed or not, depending on whether or not you are wearing a blazer or a jacket. Most shoulder rigs are leather or nylon for comfort reasons.
X-Ring Supply stocks plenty of holsters. We can help you decide what is right for you and fits your chosen gun. 10 Essential Concealed Carry Gear Considerations
10) Don't drink or use drugs.
If you have a BAC of .08%, which is the DUI threshold, you cannot have a gun in your possession. The same rule applies to drugs. This includes doctor prescriptions according to the law which says, "…to the degree that the person may be in danger or endanger other persons or property, or annoy persons in the vicinity…" In other words, avoid narcotics and other drugs that can make you sleepy. If you should not drive or use heavy equipment while taking the prescription, leave the gun at home.
11) Know Delaware's self defense laws.
Is Delaware a stand your ground state?
Delaware is not a stand your ground state. When a situation occurs outside of your home, Delaware state law requires you to retreat or at least attempt to flee the situation. You are not justified in a self defense shooting is you were able to leave the situation.
Make sure you know your rights under Delaware's self-defense laws. A brief recap is:
• You must be in fear for your life or the life of someone nearby.
• You cannot provoke an attack.
• If you are in public and have a line of retreat, you must do that.
• You do not have to retreat in your home or on your property, at your place of work, or place of worship.
14 Things you need to know about Delaware Gun laws. You can also read Delaware's code section 464 for what the law specifically says.
12) Get a CCDW permit (Concealed Carry Deadly Weapon).
Delaware has a complicated process for obtaining a concealed carry permit. X-Ring Supply highly recommends getting this permit. If you are wondering how to obtain your Delaware concealed carry permit, we have an entire blog post detailing the steps(and all of our tips) to make the Delaware concealed carry permit application process as easy as possible.
If the process is so complicated, and you can open carry most places, why do we recommend getting your CCDW permit?
In a nutshell, there are many pros and only a few cons. You do not have to worry about your shirt coming loose and covering your pistol that you are open carrying on your hip. You do not have to worry about making sure your EDC is visible in your vehicle. Having your CCDW permit means no one but you knows you are carrying a firearm; you will not scare anyone, and you will not be targeted by someone trying to steal your gun. If a situation does occur, you are more likely to be able to get the drop on an attacker because they will not expect you to be packing heat. Conversely, a lot of criminals prey on easy targets. Having a gun on your hip in plain sight does make you an unappealing victim.
Out-of-state residents can get a temporary CCW by contacting the Attorney General.
Bonus Tip, Kind of...
Finally, this is not exactly a tip, but it is critical. Practice. No matter how you carry, you must know how to shoot your chosen gun and do it accurately. You are legally responsible for every bullet that leaves the barrel when you squeeze the trigger. Make sure you know Delaware gun laws.