Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News Gun Laws

Round Two: Gun Rights Groups Prevail (Again) in Second Challenge to Firearm Restrictions in Delaware’s State Parks, Forests

Friday, October 12, 2018

Round Two: Gun Rights Groups Prevail (Again) in Second Challenge to Firearm Restrictions in Delaware’s State Parks, Forests

Gun rights groups, including the NRA’s Delaware affiliate, the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, scored an encore legal victory this week when the Superior Court of the State of Delaware invalidated parts of newly promulgated regulations imposed by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) on firearms in state parks and forests.

The October 11, 2018 decision by the court follows an earlier decision in late 2017, Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol Club, Ltd. v. Small, deciding a legal challenge brought by the Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol Club, Ltd., the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, and others. There, the Supreme Court of Delaware invalidated the two agencies’ firearm rules, finding these effectively banned the carrying of firearms for self-defense in state parks and forests. The regulations were an “evisceration of the right to self-defense and defense of family in the entirety of Delaware State Parks and Forests [that was] inconsistent with” Delaware’s constitutional right to bear arms. Compared with existing legislative restrictions, the court determined the regulations were “grossly out of step” with the kinds of place-based restrictions adopted by the General Assembly. Further, while the agencies had asserted general public safety concerns as the reason for the bans, they provided no evidence in the record in support, and failed to specify which areas were truly “sensitive places” for the purposes of a firearm ban.

As a result, the two agencies went back to the drawing board and prepared new regulations “to comply with the decision of the Delaware Supreme Court in Bridgeville R&P Club v. DNREC (Dec. 7, 2017) that invalidated portions of the existing regulations governing firearms.”  In the meantime, emergency regulations took effect in late 2017 to fill the regulatory void caused by the court’s ruling. Final regulations were adopted and enforceable as of May 2018.

The new rules included a firearm ban in sensitive places (“designated areas”), but exempting law enforcement officers and Delaware residents with a valid carry permit. Such persons would have to produce their permit on request; residents of other states holding an “equivalent permit or license to carry a concealed firearm may be permitted to carry a concealed firearm at the discretion of the Department.” “Designated areas” under DDA regulations included “State Forest Offices, education centers, and lodges;” under the DNREC regulation, these areas were park offices, visitor and nature centers, bathhouses, restaurants and snack bars, zoos, educational facilities, dormitories, playgrounds, swimming pools, camping areas, guarded beaches, and water parks. The regulations also gave law enforcement officers an unfettered authority to conduct identification and permit checks on those present in state parks and forests. 

The court reviewing the new regulations granted in part the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and invalidated portions of the regulations. Although the agencies had the authority to regulate the use of state lands, this authority was subject to existing restrictions in the state constitution and state laws. Because the restrictions fell short of a total ban, the court applied “intermediate scrutiny” review, which required the agencies to show their regulations served important government objectives, where the means chosen were substantially related to furthering those objectives without burdening the fundamental right of self-defense more than reasonably necessary.       

Turning to the specific restrictions, the court determined that the designation of camping areas, camp sites and lodges as “designated areas” failed to satisfy intermediate scrutiny. Even though “designated areas” arguably made up less than one percent of the total area of state parks and forests, these were the areas where “many visitors spend much of their time.” Such places lacked a meaningful controlled entry point; visitors were not screened by security in any way; and the areas were not monitored by law enforcement, which meant campers and other visitors were present at their own risk, without reliable access to emergency assistance. In addition, the public safety justification the agencies advanced for this “substantial” burden on gun rights was “unsupported” by any evidence in the record.

The next regulations, giving blanket authority to law enforcement to conduct automatic “background checks” based on permits and ID documents on request and in the absence of probable cause or a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing, were an unconstitutional violation of the Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures. These “show me your papers” regulations “give unfettered discretion to stop …visitors, question them, and require identification without requiring a scintilla of evidence of criminal activity.”      

Regulations that purported to give DNREC and the DDA the discretion to issue temporary concealed carry permits to non-residents with an out-of-state carry permit or license were preempted by state law – a statute granted the Attorney General the sole authority to issue temporary concealed carry permits. (The court noted that under the regulations, recipients of the DNREC/DDA-issued temporary permits were nonetheless still subject to prosecution for carrying a concealed deadly weapon in state park or forest.)    

Delaware, the court concluded, “is an ‘open carry’ state. This right to bear arms includes the right to do so for purposes of hunting, recreation and protection of self and family both inside and outside the home.”  

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke proclaimed the month of October 2018 as National Hunting and Fishing Month. In solidarity with the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association and the Bridgeville Rifle and Pistol Club, speak up for your Second Amendment right to carry your firearm on public lands, and promote the ability to hunt on public lands in your state.

A copy of the Delaware decision is available at https://courts.delaware.gov/Opinions/Download.aspx?id=279720

 

 

 

IN THIS ARTICLE
Delaware public lands Legal
TRENDING NOW
DHS “Misinformation Governance Board” Could Seek to Sway Gun Debate

News  

Monday, May 16, 2022

DHS “Misinformation Governance Board” Could Seek to Sway Gun Debate

In late April, Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), made a bizarre announcement during a congressional hearing that DHS was forming what it called a “Mis- and Disinformation Governance Board.” The statement came ...

Follow the Science, Unless it Leads Where You Don’t Want to Go

News  

Monday, May 16, 2022

Follow the Science, Unless it Leads Where You Don’t Want to Go

Researchers in California have published the results of a study evaluating the effectiveness of so-called “gun violence restraining orders” (a.k.a. “extreme risk protection orders” or “red flag” orders). Assembly Bill 1014, was enacted in California in ...

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

News  

Friday, April 1, 2022

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

Half the country will now enjoy the freedom to carry a handgun for self-defense without a permit from the state thanks to the tireless efforts of men and women of the National Rifle Association. 

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Illinois: General Assembly Passes “Ghost Gun” Ban

Monday, April 11, 2022

Illinois: General Assembly Passes “Ghost Gun” Ban

On Friday, the House Judiciary Committee held a subject matter hearing on House Bill 4383 Senate Floor Amendment 2, to ban individuals from making their own firearms for personal use, and voted to advance the measure. ...

New Jersey: “Mandatory Jail” Bill Scheduled for Senate Hearing Thursday

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

New Jersey: “Mandatory Jail” Bill Scheduled for Senate Hearing Thursday

Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee is scheduled to consider S.513, legislation which would create a rebuttable presumption of no bail for gun offenses.

NRA-ILA Spring 2022 Litigation Newsletter

News  

Friday, May 13, 2022

NRA-ILA Spring 2022 Litigation Newsletter

NRA-ILA’s Office of Litigation Counsel has been busy fighting for our members’ rights in courtrooms across the country. ILA has filed new cases, continued the fight in many existing cases, and scored some good wins. ...

Georgia: Gov. Kemp Signs Constitutional Carry

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Georgia: Gov. Kemp Signs Constitutional Carry

Today, Governor Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 319, constitutional carry, into law. Georgia is now the 25th constitutional carry state, and the fourth to join that group in 2022. Half of the country now recognizes the right ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

President Donald J. Trump to Address NRA Members at the 2022 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Houston, Texas

News  

Thursday, May 12, 2022

President Donald J. Trump to Address NRA Members at the 2022 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Houston, Texas

Former President Donald J. Trump will headline the 2022 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on May 27, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.