Private Sales in Delaware

Posted on October 3, 2014

Private firearms transfers (i.e., transfers by non-firearms dealers) are subject to a criminal background check requirement in Delaware.1 A background check must be conducted on the prospective purchaser when neither the seller nor the buyer is a licensed dealer.2

“Transfer” does not include:

  • The loan of a firearm for lawful purposes for 14 days or less to a person known personally to the owner;
  • A temporary transfer for lawful purposes for less than one day while in the “continuous presence” of the gun’s owner:
  • Transfer for repair, service or modification by a licensed gunsmith or other lawful business engaged in that trade; or
  • A transfer by operation of law or required for certain transfers at death.3

Licensed gun dealers are required to facilitate the transfer of a firearm when any unlicensed seller requests that the dealer conduct a background check on a prospective buyer.4 Both the unlicensed seller and prospective purchaser must appear together at the licensed dealer’s place of business to complete the background check and transaction. The transfer cannot proceed if the prospective buyer is prohibited from possessing, purchasing or owning a firearm under state law.5 Licensed dealers must maintain a record of criminal background checks that are completed at the request of unlicensed sellers.6 The dealer may charge a fee of no more than $30 for each background check.7

Anyone who knowingly engages in a private transfer of a firearm without conducting a background check is criminally liable for a Class A misdemeanor. Anyone who conducts subsequent offenses is  criminally liable for a Class G felony.8 See the Delaware Background Checks and Delaware Prohibited Purchasers Generally sections for further information.

Exceptions

The background check requirement for private transactions does not apply to transfers of firearms between extended family members or legal guardians.9 The requirement also does not apply to firearms manufactured in or before 1898,10 certain replica firearms,11 certain firearms made for hunting or competitive shooting,12 transfers to an active or retired law-enforcement officer,13 transfers to a person who has a valid concealed carry permit,14 transactions involving a curio or relic to a licensed collector15 and transactions involving a transfer to an authorized state or local representative as part of a voluntary gun-buyback program.16

The background check requirement also does not apply to transactions in which the buyer is a valid member of an organized church or religious group the beliefs of which prohibit photographic identification.17 In such a case, the buyer and seller must appear before the State Bureau of Investigation (“Bureau”). The buyer must provide the Bureau with fingerprints so it can obtain the buyer’s criminal history to determine if the buyer is prohibited from purchasing a firearm.18 In addition, the buyer must submit a signed affidavit that photographic identification violates the beliefs of an organized religion or church of which the buyer is a valid member.19

See our Private Sales policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(a). []
  2. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(a). []
  3. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448(B)(b)(2). []
  4. See Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, § 904A(b). []
  5. Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, § 904A(b)(1)-(3). []
  6. Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, § 904A(b)(4). []
  7. Del. Code Ann. tit. 24, § 904A(b)(5). []
  8. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(e). []
  9. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(c)(1). []
  10. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(c)(2). []
  11. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(c)(3). []
  12. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(c)(4). []
  13. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(c)(5). []
  14. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(c)(6). []
  15. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11 § 1448B(c)(8). []
  16. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11 § 1448B(c)(9). []
  17. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(c)(7). []
  18. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(f)(1), (2). []
  19. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(f)(2). []