Buying Ammo and Guns in Delaware

DISCLAIMER: It is your full responsibility to make sure the firearm, ammunition, or accessories you are purchasing is legal for you to own in your state or jurisdiction. The information contained throughout this web site, including the firearm and ammunition state guide provided below, is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.

In this piece, we address the ammunition and firearms laws in Delaware so that the reader can get a sense of the legal steps necessary to buy and ship ammunition into the state, as well as legally own and carry firearms. Thus, the piece begins with a breakdown of the ammunition laws in Delaware, followed by the firearms laws. To wrap things up, we provide you with some resources that we think will be useful to folks who are interested in owning and carrying firearms and ammunition in Delaware.

Delaware’s firearms laws are on the more restrictive end, but it is not the most restrictive state in the USA in terms of its ammo and gun laws. The process of buying firearms and ammunition in the state is not the most difficult, though there are some bans. Carrying a firearm, on the other hand, is extremely difficult: the concealed carry permitting process involves a lot of time, effort, and public knowledge about an applicant’s private life.

Nothing in this piece is meant as legal advice. Instead, we hope that readers find this piece informative as a summary of the current state of Delaware’s laws surrounding ammunition and firearms.

Like most states, Delaware has preemption: this means that the state has passed a law stating that localities like cities and counties are forbidden from making firearms laws that are more restrictive than the state’s. Preemption makes life easier for gun owners in that once you learn one set of laws for Delaware, those same laws apply in the entire state. 

Ammo Laws/Buying Ammo in Delaware 

First, we will cover the ammo laws of the state.

The ammunition laws in Delaware are fairly permissive. Much like at the federal level, the state forbids prohibited persons from purchasing ammunition. Prohibited persons include people convicted of felonies or domestic violence, those found mentally incapable in court, and people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health institution.

Aside from that restatement of a similar Federal policy, Delaware does not have restrictive ammo laws beyond the Federal guidelines. In addition to the prohibited persons list, there is an age requirement: the buyer of ammo has to be eighteen to purchase rifle or shotgun rounds, and twenty-one to buy handgun ammo.

It is possible to have ammunition shipped to a residential address in Delaware. In addition to the legal requirements, some carriers can and do impose their own rules. Commonly, shippers or carriers might ask for an adult with a valid ID to be present to accept the ammunition upon delivery.

While there are few restrictions on ammo itself, Delaware is less permissive on magazines. The state has a ban on magazines with capacities of over seventeen rounds. In case you were wondering, our research could not find the logic behind the seemingly arbitrary number of seventeen, whereas other magazine bans in other states tend to be multiples of five.

The ammo laws in Delaware are not strict, but the magazine ban makes the laws in the state less permissive. In effect, as long as the buyer is of age, and not a prohibited person, it is entirely possible to have ammunition shipped to a residential address in the state of Delaware. 

Gun Laws/Buying Guns in Delaware 

Purchasing firearms in Delaware comes with some restrictions. Many NFA items, such as suppressors, machine guns, and Short Barreled Rifles/Shotguns are outright banned in the state. There is also an assault weapons ban in Delaware that bans most modern semi-automatic shotguns, rifles, and some pistols by name as well as via a list of features. These two bans alone make Delaware’s firearms laws fairly restrictive.

Aside from these bans, Delaware follows the federally mandated process for buying firearms. Assuming that the buyer meets the age requirements, and is not a prohibited person, buying a gun can be done in one trip in the state. The buyer should bring a valid ID, a form of payment, and be prepared to fill out Form 4473. Once the background check from the completed 4473 clears, as does the payment, Delaware does not impose additional restrictions or waiting periods on buying firearms that are not banned in the state.

Delaware does mandate that private sellers of firearms have to do a background check on the prospective buyer: this adds, in some cases, a nearly month-long de facto waiting period on private gun sales.  

Delaware’s firearm purchasing processes are not wildly restrictive at gun stores, but become somewhat prohibitive in terms of private sales. The bans on assault weapons and NFA items make the state on the more restrictive side when it comes to purchasing firearms, which is in contrast to the relatively permissive ammunition laws. Carrying a firearm in the state is where Delaware has become one of the more restrictive states in the US. 

Delaware does not have state laws that restrict open carry. But, because open carry is not illegal in the state and not enshrined in a statute, it means that localities can make their own determinations about open carry. Thus, before open carrying, check with the relevant county and city laws and ordinances. Because the state is made up mostly of urban municipalities, open carry is easier said than done in Delaware, because those small municipalities can and do make their own rules on the matter. 

Delaware’s concealed carry permit is arguably the most arduous in the country: a brief look at the application reveals that one’s application for the permit has to be published in a local newspaper, including address and name, along with references from five people in the community whom the applicant does not live with. Further, there are mandatory classes, a notary requirement, and some fees.  It is, plainly, an attempt to discourage people from getting the permit and a massive risk to personal privacy.

Sadly, even after that extreme vetting process, a Delaware concealed carry permit is not valid in any of the states surrounding the tiny state.

The bans that Delaware imposes on NFA items and Assault Weapons are already fairly restrictive. Add to that the fact that, to concealed carry a weapon, you have to publicly announce it and get five of your coworkers or neighbors to sign off on it, and Delaware’s firearms laws become some of the more restrictive in the country.  The ammunition laws are more or less standard and follow federal guidelines.

Overall, the bans and concealed carry processes of the state make Delaware a restrictive state in terms of firearms laws. This is somewhat surprising given that Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights that guarantees our right to keep and bear arms.

Sales Tax on Guns/Ammo in Delaware

Delaware takes a little of the sting out of gun ownership with its taxes: there is no state sales tax in Delaware, a rarity in the United States. Thus, if one can deal with the firearms laws, at least the purchase price is likely to be lower than in other states, and buying ammo will be less costly over time as well.

More Resources:

  • The ATF maintains a list of all FFLs in the country, including those in Delaware. This list is kept up to date: generally, gun stores are either Type One or Type Two FFLs. 

  • There are two gun ranges run by the state of Delaware. 

  • Several well-rated gun shops are in this small state as well. 

  • There is a forum dedicated to the difficult process of getting a concealed permit in Delaware, it is an excellent resource for people in that state.

Delaware Gun Law FAQ:

Yes, it is technically legal to carry a gun in Delaware. But, to be able to do so legally, you’ll need a concealed carry permit. Getting one of those is a long process and will involve classes, fees, a publication in the local newspaper, a notarized application, and your address being broadcast in said local newspaper. 

Delaware currently has bans on magazines over seventeen rounds in capacity, assault weapons (most semi-automatic long guns), and nearly every item regulated by the NFA. 

Yes, Delaware has no laws against the shipping of ammunition to a residential address. Keep in mind that carriers will often want an adult with valid identification to be present to sign for the package. 

Delaware has no state sales tax at all: thus, there are no special taxes on firearms or ammunition that have been imposed by the state.

While there is no law against it, Delaware’s cities (which make up most of the state’s populated areas) are allowed to make their own laws on the matter. So, check with local law enforcement before openly carrying in any given part of the state.