Delaware has no law regarding the removal or surrender of firearms at the scene of a domestic violence incident.

Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Misdemeanants

Delaware prohibits the purchase, ownership, possession or control of any firearm or ammunition by any person who has been convicted in any court of any misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.1 “Misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” means any misdemeanor offense that:

  • Was committed by a:
    • Member of the victim’s family2 (regardless, however, of the state of residence of the parties);
    • Former spouse of the victim;
    • Person who co-habited with the victim at the time of the offense or within the past three years3 ;
    • Person with a child in common with the victim; or
    • Person with whom the victim had a substantive dating relationship4, at the time of or within 3 years prior to the offense5; and
  • Is an offense specifically defined under the Delaware Code.6

Unlike federal law, Delaware only prohibits firearm purchase or possession by domestic violence misdemeanants for five years following conviction.7

Firearm Prohibitions for Persons Subject to Domestic Violence Protective Orders

Delaware prohibits the purchase, ownership, possession or control of any firearm or ammunition by any person subject to a Family Court protection from abuse order (other than an ex parte order), but only for so long as that order remains in effect or is not vacated or otherwise terminated.8

Removal or Surrender of Firearms When Domestic Violence Protective Orders Are Issued

Delaware authorizes, but does not require, courts to issue protective orders that direct the abuser to surrender all firearms in his or her possession. As part of a protective order, the court may order that the respondent temporarily relinquish all the firearms he or she owns to a police officer or federally licensed firearms dealer.9

In 2015, Delaware strengthened its law disarming a person subject to a protective order. Under the 2015 law10, if the protective order requires the respondent to relinquish his or her firearms, it must also:

  • Prohibit the respondent from purchasing, receiving or controlling any additional guns or ammunition for the duration of the order;
  • State that firearms shall be relinquished immediately to a police officer if requested by the police officer upon personal service of the protective order. If no request is made by a police officer, the relinquishment shall occur within 24 hours of personal service of the order at any staffed police station or a federally-licensed firearms dealer located in Delaware; and
  • Require the respondent to file, within 48 hours of personal service:
    • A certification, signed under penalty of perjury, that the respondent did not own, possess, or control any firearms at the time of the order and currently does not own, possess, or control any firearms;
    • A copy of a proof of transfer showing, for each firearm owned, possessed, or controlled by the respondent at the time of the order, that the firearm was relinquished to a police officer or a federally-licensed firearms dealer located in Delaware; or
    • A certification, signed under penalty of perjury, for each firearm owned, possessed, or controlled by the respondent at the time of the order, that the respondent is unable to obtain access to the firearm, specifying the location of the firearm and the reason why the respondent is unable to obtain access.11

Delaware courts issuing protective orders also may direct law enforcement to, forthwith, search for and seize a respondent’s firearms upon a showing by the petitioner of the order that respondent has firearms in his or her possession, and:

  • The petitioner can describe, with sufficient particularity, the type and location of the firearm or firearms; and
  • Respondent has used or threatened to use a firearm against the petitioner, or the petitioner expresses a fear that the respondent may us a firearm against the petitioner.12

See our Domestic Violence and Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448(a)(7). ⤴︎
  2. The term “family” is defined Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 901(12). ⤴︎
  3. Part of this provision was enacted in 2015 as part of SB 83, and does not go into effect until January 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  4. Factors to consider for a substantive dating relationship may include the length of the relationship, or the type of relationship, or the frequency of interaction between the parties. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 1041(2)(b). ⤴︎
  5. Part of this provision was enacted in 2015 as part of SB 83, and does not go into effect until January 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  6. These prohibited offenses are listed under Delaware Code Ann. Title 11 §§ 601, 602, 603, 611, 614, 621, 625, 628, 763, 765, 766, 767, 781, 785 or 791, or any similar offense when committed or prosecuted in another jurisdiction. ⤴︎
  7. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448(d). ⤴︎
  8. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448(a)(6). This provision does not apply to a contested order issued solely upon Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 1041(1)(d), (e), or (h), or any combination thereof. ⤴︎
  9. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 1045(a)(8); however, the provision allowing a person to relinquish his or her firearms to a federally licensed firearms dealer takes effect on January 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  10. 2015 SB 83, which will go into effect on January 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  11. 2015 SB 83, to be codified at Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 1045(g) as of January 1, 2017. ⤴︎
  12. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 1045(a)(11). ⤴︎