The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) have issued regulations expanding the scope of legal possession of firearms within Delaware’s state parks, state wildlife areas and state forests.
The new rules are contained in the state’s regulations governing State Parks, Wildlife, and State Forests. They are the result of a December 2017 ruling by the Delaware Supreme Court and were issued following a series of public workshops in February of 2018 and a public hearing on March 12, 2018.
The specific changes made were published as proposed amendments in the February 1, 2018 Register of Regulations. The formal regulatory amendments (as published in the May 1, 2018 Register) supersede previously adopted emergency regulations (published in the January 1, 2018 Register), under the Delaware Administrative Procedures Act.
Overview of the Regulations
The regulations, pursuant to the Supreme Court ruling, state that visitors may legally possess firearms, as allowed by Delaware law, in state parks, wildlife areas and forests (see an online map of areas) unless they are prohibited by law due to a past conviction for a violent crime, active Protection from Abuse Order, or mental health commitment. This includes, for example, trails, unguarded beaches, parking lots, and vehicles.
The proposed regulations prohibit firearms only in certain public facilities and designated areas such as park offices, visitor centers, nature centers, bathhouses, restaurants and snack bars, stadiums and facilities while used for events, concerts and festivals, museums, zoos, stables, educational facilities, dormitories, playgrounds, camping areas, swimming pools, guarded beaches, and water parks. These designated areas are marked with appropriate signs.
The regulations allow holders of valid Delaware concealed-carry permits to carry within parks, including designated areas, provided only that the permit be produced upon request. The regulations would also allow active-duty law and qualified retired law enforcement officers to carry anywhere within the parks and other areas affected by Supreme Court decision.
Secretary’s Order No. 2018-F-0028 (Final Reg. Amendments to 7 DE Admin. Code 3900: Wildlife)
Secretary’s Order No. 2018-P-0029 (Final Reg. Amendments to 7 DE Admin. Code 9201: State Parks)
Secretary’s Order (for the Delaware Dept. of Agriculture) Final Reg. Amendments to 3 DE Admin. Code 402: State Forests
Supreme Court Ruling, Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol Club, Ltd., et al., v. Small, et al. (Dec. 7, 2017)
Public Hearing Notice: March 12, 2018