Court knocks down gun ban in Delaware state forests, parks
By Chris Eger
The 350 acres comprising Fort DuPont State Park are some of the 23,000 controlled by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. (Photo: DNREC)
The Delaware Supreme Court last week held that a prohibition on firearms on public land issued by two state agencies is unconstitutional.
The lawsuit, brought by several gun rights advocates and backed by the Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol Club and the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, argued the Delaware Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Environmental Control exceeded their powers when they almost totally banned firearms on the land under their control. In a 3-2 ruling last Thursday, the state’s high court agreed.
“We are asked whether unelected officials from the State’s parks and forest departments, whose power is expressly limited, can ban (except for a narrow exception for hunting) the possession of guns in state parks and forests in contravention of Delawareans’ rights under the State’s constitution,” said Justice Karen Valihura for the majority. “Clearly they cannot. They lack such authority because they may not pass unconstitutional laws, and the regulations completely eviscerate a core right to keep and bear arms for defense of self and family outside the home — a right this Court has