Del. Supreme Court Rules Gun Ban in State Parks, Forests Unconst - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Supreme Court Rules Gun Ban in State Parks, Forests Unconstitutional

Posted: 12/08/2017 10:44:00 -05:00 Updated:
The Del. Supreme Court which is considering questions about the constitutionality of a judge's involvement in death penalty sentencing in Delaware. (Photo: WBOC Ryan Stanley) The Del. Supreme Court which is considering questions about the constitutionality of a judge's involvement in death penalty sentencing in Delaware. (Photo: WBOC Ryan Stanley)

DOVER, Del.- Delaware's Supreme Court has ruled as unconstitutional a state ban on non-hunting firearms in state parks and forests.

Thursday's ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol Club and the Delaware State Sportsmen's Association against Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and Department of Agriculture.

The plaintiffs argued that the prohibition on guns violates their rights under Delaware's constitution, which was amended in 1987 to explicitly state that citizens have the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, as well as for hunting and recreation.

The state argued that prohibiting guns on state park and forest lands except for hunting is a legitimate exercise of government authority to protect public safety.

In its decision, the court stated, "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. 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 already recognized. As such, the regulations are unconstitutional on their face."

Click here to read the court's full opinion.

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