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Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2020 ‘Preemption of Local Laws in Delaware.’ Other Laws & Policies. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 5 December

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Local Authority to Regulate Firearms in Delaware

Delaware Code Annotated Title 22, § 111 provides, in part:

The municipal governments shall enact no law, ordinance or regulation prohibiting, restricting or licensing the ownership, transfer, possession or transportation of firearms or components of firearms or ammunition except that the discharge of a firearm may be regulated; provided any law, ordinance or regulation incorporates the justification defenses as found in [title 11, §§ 461-471]. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to invalidate municipal ordinances existing before July 4, 1985, and any ordinance enacted after July 4, 1985, is hereby repealed.

"Municipal governments" include all cities, towns and villages created under any general or special law for general governmental purposes, which possess legislative, administrative and police powers for the general exercise of municipal functions and which carry on such functions through a set of officials, and all unincorporated towns.

The "justification defenses as found in [title 11, §§ 461-471]" include such defenses to criminal liability as the use of force for self-protection, the protection of other persons, and the protection of property.

Delaware Code Annotated Title 22, § 835(a)(6) specifically prohibits amending a municipal charter to:

Prohibit, restrict or license ownership, transfer, possession or transportation of firearms or components of firearms or ammunition, except that the discharge of a firearm may be regulated; provided that any regulation or ordinance incorporates the justification defenses as found in [title 11 of the Delaware Code]. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to invalidate existing municipal ordinances.

County governments are likewise restricted from enacting any "law or regulation prohibiting, restricting or licensing the ownership, transfer, possession or transportation of firearms or components of firearms or ammunition" with an exception for discharge bans that incorporate the justification defenses as found in [tit. 11, §§ 461-471].

There is little case law interpreting title 22, § 111, title 22, § 835(a)(6) and title 9, § 330(c).

Delaware makes null and void any and all local ordinances that make a shooting range or hunting operation a nuisance or provide for abatement of the shooting range or hunting operation as a nuisance because of changed conditions in or about the locality. This restriction does not apply whenever nuisance results from the negligent or improper operation of any such shooting range or hunting operation or any of its appurtenances, or when there has been a significant and fundamental change in the operation itself…

ID: Q7703

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