14 Things you need to know about Delaware Gun laws
Updated: Nov 16, 2022
Delaware gun laws are complicated, here is a rundown of what you need to know with links to get more detailed information on each item. If you are wondering how to obtain a concealed carry permit in Delaware, check out our post with important tips and tricks that make the process as easy as possible. If you have questions about open carry, check out our blog post.
First things first, all states must follow Federal regulation, and so must you. As of this writing, the federal rule that says you must be 21 to buy a handgun from a licensed dealer is under fire. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling only applies from Maryland south to South Carolina along the coast and west to West Virginia. This ruling will no doubt set up challenges in other districts and may wind up in the hands of the Supreme Court for final disposition.
Other federal regs are:
• If you plan to buy and resell guns for a profit, you must have a federal firearms license (FFL). The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) prosecutes people who buy and resell guns for a profit, even as few as five guns.
• Dealers are required to do a background check on buyers or record an approved form of state gun-owner ID. The Delaware background check system follows federal law.
• Handgun ammunition cannot be sold to someone under 21 years old. Rifle and shotgun ammo cannot be sold to anyone under 18 years old.
• If you work on guns and charge for this, gunsmithing in other words, you need a federal firearms license.
• If you make guns for sale or make and sell ammunition, you must have an FFL. Making ammo for sale includes reloading ammo and selling it. Making guns, such as taking an 80% lower and finishing it is not legal in Delaware unless you have a manufacturer's license.
The state does not allow private gun sales without a background check unless it is within the family, and even then there are strict rules you must follow. Every private gun sale must go through an FFL holder and every sale requires a federal background check, ran through the FBI's system. For these person to person transfers, X-Ring Supply will process the paperwork and handle the background check for a small $20 fee if you are interested in selling a gun to someone else.
Delaware does not have a firearms registry, however, it requires a federal background check for firearm purchases.
RED FLAG LAWS
Delaware has recently passed the “red flag law”. In other words, if law enforcement or family members believe a person with a gun is a threat to himself or others, they can get an emergency court order to remove the gun. Attorney and gun rights champion Micheal Modica explains the law more fully in his blog.
The Diamond State is also a castle doctrine state. In other words, you must prove your or the life of someone around you is in danger, you may respond with lethal force. This law has restrictions. The state law explains your rights and what is required to use lethal force in detail.
DELAWARE NFA LAWS
• Suppressors, silencers, or cans, are not allowed in Delaware.
• Short barrel Rifles, or SBRs, are allowed in Delaware, but not in Wilmington. As always, they are federally regulated. You must have $200 tax stamp, a background check and a bunch of extra paperwork. This paperwork must be carried with you, any time you have the nfa gun with you.
• Full auto guns are not allowed in Delaware.
You can read all the federal regulations on the BATF website.
PELLET GUNS LEGAL
Are pellet guns legal in Delaware? In other words, are air guns legal? Yes. In the hunting section below, pellet guns are allowed for small game hunting. In addition, pellet guns are used for target practice shooting. The state of Delaware does not allow pellet rifles exceeding .177 cal, and has restrictions on where they can be used.
DELAWARE GUN RIGHTS
Delaware has laws on the restoration of gun rights.
If someone loses their right to have a gun under federal or state mental health laws, the person can appeal to the Relief from Disabilities board. This appeal does not apply to someone who has their guns taken away under the red flag law.
Being convicted of a crime is not an automatic disqualification for owning a gun under state or federal law. If the crime prevents a person from buying a gun, sometimes the person can appeal to the governor to have the right to own a gun restored. Restoration is not guaranteed.
If the crime is a misdemeanor, with a few exceptions noted below, the right to own a gun is automatically restored in Delaware after five years, if the person has not committed other crimes.
Any juvenile charge that would be a felony if the person was an adult puts a temporary block on gun ownership. This prohibition is gone when the person turns 25 and has not committed other crimes that bar gun possession.
Crimes that permanently prevent a person from having a gun include:
• Violence against a person
• An adult felony
• Use of a gun during the commission of a crime
• Some drug-related offenses
• Domestic violence
Read more about the restoration of rights at the Restoration of Rights Project and the Expungement web page at the Delaware Courts website.
DELAWARE OPEN CARRY
Delaware is one of 31 states that allow residents to open carry without a permit or license.
Read our blog post here that explains the 12 things you need to know for Delaware open carry.
DELAWARE CONCEALED CARRY
Delaware is a may-issue state for concealed carry permits. The Clerk of Court, prothonotary office in Delaware, handles concealed carry permits. Get the application here. You can read all the rules and regs for getting a CCW here.
2022 Update: Delaware banned many standard capacity magazines, now restricting legal gun owners to 17 or fewer rounds per magazine capacity. The bill makes it illegal to purchase or possess them. Having a Delaware issues CCDW license is an exception to this magazine ban, as there is an exception allowing for DE CCDW holders to purchase and own mags greater than 17 rounds. Read the regs here.
Applying for your Delaware concealed carry permit is complicated and many items are time sensitive and expensive.
Why would Delaware make it so difficult? Well, we will let you answer that question. Don't worry, we have a whole article with tips, tricks and the best order to do everything to try to make it as simple as possible for you to obtain your concealed carry permit in Delaware.
Delaware allows concealed carry on private property and in a vehicle. You can carry into a bar, but you cannot drink alcohol and carry. Carry on county public spaces is determined at the county level. Carry on federal land is governed by federal law. If you have permission from the pastor or church council, you can carry in church. Learn more about Delaware's carry laws here.
GHOST GUNS BANNED
Delaware bans "ghost guns," which are firearms made on 3-D printers or guns made from 80% receivers or homemade guns. Guns made on 3-D printers still need metal, like the barrel, to be a working gun. So far, these guns are capable of firing only a few shots before breaking. Guns made from 80% receivers may be polymer or metal. Homemade guns can be made from just about anything.
A ghost gun can be made legal by a person with a federal manufacturing license. A serial number is engraved on the gun and reported to the BATF. That moves it out of the ghost gun category.
Shotguns are allowed. Repeaters must be plugged to hold 2 in the mag and one in the chamber. Allowed ammo is buckshot, solid ball also called pumpkin ball and slugs. Shotguns of 20 gauge or larger are required.
For rifle, Delaware only allows "straight-wall cartridges" for deer hunting below the C&D canal. Rifles are limited to three rounds, including the one in the chamber. There is a lot to know, you can read our whole post about it here.
This relatively new law is based on a mistaken belief that a straight-wall cartridge will not fire a bullet as far as a bottleneck or shouldered round. That idea simply does not hold up and we have proof. In 1879 at Sandy Hook in New Jersey, a shooter with a .45-70 and black powder hit a "small" target at 3,200 yards. So yes, you can hit a target at very long range with these slower types of rounds, however the trajectory is anything but flat, with large amounts of drop after the first one or two hundred yards. We have a whole blog post laying out what is allowed and the best rounds for hunting deer with a pistol caliber straight walled cartridge rifle, we recommend either .350 Legend or .450 Bushmaster and a max distance of 250 yards.
The same straight-wall requirement applies to handguns with some additional restrictions. The Department of Fish & Wildlife lists this information:
• "… .357 to .38 caliber with a case length no less than 1.25 inches and a maximum case length of 1.82 inches, or .41 caliber to maximum of .50 caliber and a maximum case length of 1.82 inches. Case length excludes the bullet portion of the cartridge.
• "Open, metallic/mechanical, optical and telescopic sights may be used."
Rifle muzzleloaders must be at least .42 cal and have a barrel at least 20 inches.
Small Game Hunting
Shotguns with No. 2 shot or smaller is required. Repeaters also have to be plugged to hold no more than 2 in the mag and one in the chamber. Rimfire and pellet rifles are allowed. Rifle muzzleloaders must be .36 cal or smaller and shoot a round ball.
Federal law requires non-toxic shot for waterfowl. Common choices are steel, tungsten and bismuth. Shot size up to T is allowed. Shotguns of 10 gauge and smaller are allowed.
Delaware is not known as a destination for turkey hunters. The state has an additional turkey hunter education class for long-beard hunters. The class explains turkey hunting gun regulations.
DELAWARE GUN LAWS FOR NON RESIDENTS
Delaware gun laws for non residents are much the same for residents with the exception being carry permits. To get a non-resident carry permit, the person must own property within the state.
Delaware also recognizes concealed carry permits from other states, if that state recognizes Delaware's permit. For the current list of reciprocity states, click here. The list can change as other states change their laws.
Delaware gun laws for non-residents are the same as for residents. Delaware is a prime state for waterfowl hunting.
CAN I SHOOT A GUN ON MY PROPERTY IN DELAWARE?
A lot of people ask, "Can I shoot a gun on my property in Delaware?" The answer is it depends on the size and location of your property, There are many considerations and restrictions.. Many people hunt on their own property, if they have enough acreage.
Delaware has the following restrictions:
• You must be at least 15 yards from a public road.
• You cannot shoot within the city limits.
• You cannot shoot within 100 yards of an occupied building or barn.
Of course, follow all gun safety rules as well. Know what is down range. While these are the minimums, it is important to use good judgment. Avoid shooting near other people as they may not appreciate you shooting close to them. If you do shoot near other people, their houses or roads, it is very likely that they will call the police. We strongly recommend you do not shoot near other people's property or roads.
GUN LAWS CHANGE - KEEP UP TO DATE
As we saw in the spring of 2021, Delaware gun laws can change. For the most current information on Delaware's gun laws and any federal laws, come by the shop at 2201 Ogletown Road, Newark or call us at 302-737-6575. We are happy to tell you what is legal and what is not.
We also buy and sell used guns as well as new guns. If you have a gun you want to trade or sell, we are definitely interested in talking to you. If you are looking for a gun, let us know and we will find it.
We can also receive guns that you buy from online auction sites. Please read our transfer policies and fill out our transfer form. We need to know:
1) Where to send a copy of our FFL. This is the person or company sending the gun to us.
2) When to expect the gun.
3) Your contact information so we can tell you when the gun arrives.
When we get the gun, you come to us and fill out the appropriate paperwork.
X-Ring Supply is your one-stop shop in Delaware for your gun and ammo needs.