Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on a prospective purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)
In 2022, Delaware enacted a law making it a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks. The law must be implemented no later than June 30, 2023. Upon implementation, federally licensed dealers (FFLs) must contact the State Bureau of Identification of the Delaware State Police (SBI) when an individual attempts to purchase a firearm.1 Until the new law becomes effective, the FBI will continue to conduct background checks for firearms transfers.
An FFL may not sell, transfer or deliver any firearm to another unlicensed person until the FBI or, when the POC law becomes effective, the FBI/SBI notifies the dealers that it may “proceed,” however, if 25 days elapse from the time the background check is requested by the licensed dealer, and the FBI/SBI still has not issued a denial, then the transfer may proceed.2 Delaware requires unlicensed sellers to request a licensed dealer to facilitate a firearms transaction, including conducting a background check, prior to transferring a firearm to another unlicensed person.3
Delaware also requires the following agencies or entities to submit to the NICS system clinical mental health and other information to comply with federal laws relating to the purchase or transfer of firearms:
- The Delaware Psychiatric Center and any other hospital as defined in Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5001(4). Such information shall include only names and other nonclinical identifying information of persons so committed;4
- Hospitals and residential centers;5
- Institutions to which individuals are committed for criminal convictions, declarations of not guilty by reason of mental illness, or declarations of incompetency to stand trial for criminal offenses, or for involuntarily commitments for mental illness;6 and
- The Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.7
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- Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448A.
- Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448A(b).
- Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448B(a).
- Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5161(b)(14).
- Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, § 5161(b)(13)(g).
- Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 8509
- Del. Code Ann. tit. 29, § 9017(c).