Saw this on a Facebook feed from NRA-ILA.
By a narrow majority, the Supreme Court of Delaware recently struck down decades-old regulations that it found conflicted with the state constitution by “completely eviscerat[ing] a core right to keep and bear arms for defense of self and family outside the home.”
Thankfully, on appeal, in a 3-2 decision, the Supreme Court of the State of Delaware reversed that ruling earlier this month. It ruled that not only did DNREC and DOA fail to justify “such sweeping regulations,” but failed to show they even had the authority to enact “such unconstitutional regulations in the first place.”
The majority opinion by Justice Karen Valihura, joined by Justices James Vaughn and Gary Traynor, surveyed the historical background of the right to keep and bear arms. This right “has existed since our State’s founding and has always been regarded as an inalienable right.” And while the United States Supreme Court has not yet decided whether the Second Amendment protects carrying arms outside the home, it was clear that Section 20 included the right of public carry for self-defense among the “bundle of rights” it protected. (The majority added, peripherally, that “the conclusion that self-defense is the Second Amendment’s ‘core purpose’ suggests that it must allow citizens to be armed outside the home given that ‘in some circumstances a person may be more vulnerable in a public place than in his own house,’ among other reasons….”).
Permitting a select few individuals to “exercise a narrow sliver of their Section 20 rights” when hunting did not adequately implement the more comprehensive guarantee of the right to bear arms, and was no substitute for a more general right to have a firearm for defense of self and family. In evaluating the regulations, the majority determined that because they imposed a ban on the possession of guns for almost every person, at all times, in all state parks and forests (an area “the size of the entire District of Columbia at issue in Heller and four times the size of the City of Wilmington”), a strict standard of review applied. The regulations were so severe – not just infringing but destroying the “core Section 20 right of self-defense” – that they were bound to fail even if the court applied a less demanding level of review, intermediate scrutiny.
The ruling in Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol Club, Ltd. v. Small (Del. Dec, 7, 2017) is available online, here.