Delaware Courts Again Concerning Guns On Public Lands

BY Herschel Smith
10 months ago

News from Delaware:

A Delaware judge has once again found that parts of the state’s latest attempt to regulate firearms on public lands are unconstitutional.

In a years-long legal battle, two Delaware sports groups and individual gun owners have repeatedly challenged the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and Department of Agriculture’s regulations limiting weapons in state parks, forests and wildlife areas.

“We saw an agency … doing things we felt were not constitutional, and we called them on it,” said Jeffrey Hague, president of the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association. “We were vindicated in a couple of court decisions … that what the agencies were doing was overreach.”

A Kent County Superior Court Judge’s ruling last week again supported claims that parts of a partial weapons ban were unlawful.

For decades, firearms — as well as slingshots and archery equipment — were banned in a slew of public places such as campgrounds, with the exception of areas used for hunting.

Gun advocates like Hague argued that meant people who wanted to camp in Delaware’s parks or visit the beach would have to give up their right to bear arms or find themselves breaking the law.

Late last year, the Delaware Supreme Court shot down those bans, ruling that they were unconstitutional. State agencies responded by issuing emergency regulations because without them, they argued, “firearms would essentially be unregulated.”

Shortly after that ruling, the state adopted revised versions of those emergency rules to prohibit the open carry of firearms in certain public places such as lodges and gathering spots within state parks or forests.

Gun advocates again turned to the courts to challenge the state’s authority and rulemaking, which had established “designated areas” within public lands where firearms were prohibited.

The agencies published maps of these areas, and included the caveat that people licensed to carry a concealed deadly weapon and former or current police officers were exempt from the rule as long as they could prove their gun-bearing rights.

The lawsuit was filed by the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, the local affiliate of the National Rifle Association, the Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol Club, and club member John Sylvester against the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the state Department of Agriculture and those agencies’ secretaries in late May. It also sought clarity on the new rules.

The plaintiffs contended in the lawsuit that the revised ban, which essentially sets designated gun-free zones in state parks, forests and wildlife areas, is at odds with both the Delaware and United States constitutions.

Kent County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey J. Clark’s ruling last week, based on a line-by-line review of the partial gun ban, concluded that certain aspects — including the need to show proof of the right to carry a weapon — were unlawful.

Clark invalidated the inclusion of camping areas and lodges within the designated areas that prohibit firearms, the requirement that former or current law enforcement and concealed carry permit holders show documented proof of their right, and the requirement to show proof of identification.

The remainder of the revised regulations on firearms and weapons in state parks, forests and wildlife areas will remain in effect.

Francis Pileggi, a Wilmington attorney who has been working this case since the first lawsuit was filed in 2015, said it was only challenging parts of the new rules, but they largely won their case.

He said the biggest issue was to ensure peoples’ right to bear arms in their dwelling — whether that be a home, vacation rental or, in this case, a campsite — is upheld.

He said this case also was helpful in providing the court’s interpretation of the rules, which he said were not easily understood in some cases. For instance, it seemed that the designated areas were full gun-free zones; the court interpreted them to mean open carry is not permitted in those areas.

Recall I said that “they will never upbraid another branch of government, law or regulation in front of the peasants?”  I guess I was wrong.  The judge could have gone further, but this is a big win for gun rights in Delaware.

Statist get slammed, statist find another way to control, statist gets slammed again.  But if history is any indication, they’ll have to go back to court again, or simply ignore the regulations.  Maybe it’s time for an open carry event in Delaware state parks, yes?


Comments

  1. On October 18, 2018 at 7:16 am, ragman said:

    Exactly! Maybe it’s time for us to start ignoring their illegal unconstitutional gun laws. ALL of them.

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You are currently reading "Delaware Courts Again Concerning Guns On Public Lands", entry #20135 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Gun Control and was published October 17th, 2018 by Herschel Smith.

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