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DNREC issues interim rules on guns in state parks

Delaware Public Media

Delaware state agencies issued interim rules Wednesday on carrying guns in state parks and forests.

The state Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that Delaware’s ban on guns in parks was unconstitutional.

The new rules still bar firearms in certain areas such as zoos, group camping grounds and swimming pools. But even in those areas, exceptions will be made for active - and some retired - law enforcement officers. Gun owners can also apply for a daily exemptions - if they can show a need for self-defense or the safety of others.

The guidelines will last for 120 days while DNREC seeks approval for permanent regulations.

House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) said lawmakers may offer new legislation addressing guns in parks. But she says they should think carefully about the issue and avoid rushing to put a bill forward.

“I’ve been a part of that conversation," she said. "I’m not sure where it’s going to go. I think it needs to be thought out a little bit more. I don’t think it’s like we should jump into putting legislation forward yet.”

Delaware State Sportsmen's Association and gun clubs filed a lawsuit a couple of years ago challenging the 40-year-old gun ban.

A majority of the justices ruled the previous ban on people from carrying guns in state parks were overly broad and violated their right to self-defense.

The court ruling allows visitors to carry a firearm in parks outside of designated hunting areas. But state law still bans gun possession by people who have a past violent criminal conviction or is disqualified due to a mental illness.

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