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December 29, 2017

Court ruling lifts ban on guns in Delaware state parks

Delaware is issuing emergency regulations on firearms in state parks after a state Supreme Court ruling deemed rules banning them are unconstitutional.

The state's department of natural resources announced the regulations last Friday after the decision earlier this month, reversing a lower court's ruling upholding the ban.

"Pursuant to the ruling, visitors may now possess firearms unless they are prohibited by law due to a past conviction for a violent crime, active Protection from Abuse Order, or mental health commitment," the department said in a statement.

Firearms will still be banned in certain designated areas, such as visitors' centers, park offices and group camping grounds. 

Licensed concealed carry permit holders will be exempt from those rules.

The Dec. 7 ruling from the Delaware Supreme Court said unelected officials with the state's forest and parks department couldn't impose laws banning firearms.

"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," the majority ruling said. 

"As such, the regulations are unconstitutional on their face."

The department of natural resources said without the emergency, interim regulations, firearms would have been essentially unregulated in state parks after the ruling.