Know the Laws: Delaware
UPDATED December 2, 2012
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.
Delaware state law says that if a court orders a firearm removed as part of a Order of Protection, the firearm must be turned in to the sheriff, constable or to a police officer.* The police will go to your abusers home and remove all the firearms, and issue a receipt.** Police can enter home and search if given permission by petitioner who also resides in home.*** When the Order expires, you abuser can pick up the firearms from the local police department.
* 10 Del. Code § 1045(a)
** DE Deputy Atty. Gen. Dave Favata on 8/7/06
*** Georgia v Randolph(126 S. Ct. 1515, US. Ga. 2006)
If you think your abuser is violating the federal firearm law, you can call your local police or sheriff department, the State Police, or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). Let them know that either you have an Order of Protection from Abuse against your abuser, or your abuser has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor.
You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our DE Sheriff Department Locations page.
There is an ATF field office located in Wilmington. Their contact information is:
1007 North Orange Street, Suite 201
Wilmington, Delaware 19802
Fax: (302) 252-0129
For reporting illegal firearm activity: 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867)
A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials. To find help in your state, please click on the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.
Note: Generally, your abuser does not have to have to know s/he is violating the law by having a firearm to be arrested.*
*United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039(8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528(S.D. W.V. 1999)
Anyone who owns, has or buys a gun in violation of the federal firearm law can be punished by a fine, jail time for up to 10 years, or both.*
In Delaware, possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person can be a class D of class F felony, punishable by jail time, depending on various factors.**
* 18 USC 924 (a) (2)
** 11 Del. Code § 1448(c)
Aside from it being illegal for people convicted of certain violent crimes or someone with an order of protection against him/her to have a gun, it is also illegal under Delaware state law for the following people to possess a deadly weapon (firearm, knife, or dangerous instrument):*
* 11 Del. Code § 222(5)
** 11 Del. Code § 1448(a)(2)-(5),(8)-(9)
Before purchasing a gun, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS). If your abuser has a qualifying Order of Protection from Abuse against him, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence crime in any state, those records should be in the NCIS, which should prevent your abuser from buying a gun. Not all states have automated record keeping systems, making it more difficult to process the criminal background check, and some criminals and abusers do slip through the system.
If your abuser is able to purchase a gun, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away. Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because your abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him to have one. The criminal background check system is not foolproof.
Note: There may also be some loopholes in the law that your abuser can take advantage of. For more information, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area. To find help in your state, please click on the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.
Maybe. If your abuser is a law enforcement officer, military employee or government employee, then s/he might be able to continue to use their gun for work purposes, but not for personal use.
However, if your abuser has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, then under federal law, your abuser cannot buy or have a gun, even if s/he is a police officer or a military employee.*
If you are confused or not sure whether your abuser can still use their gun for work purposes, you can talk to a domestic violence advocate in your area or call the National Center on Full Faith and Credit to find out more information: 1-800-903-0111, ext. 2
To find an advocate at a local program, please visit the DE State and Local Programs page under the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.
*18 USC 925 (a)(1)
Trying to understand both Federal and State law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.