NRA Fights to Keep Guns in Public Houses in Delaware

| by Dabney Bailey
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The National Rifle Association and federal courts are battling over gun rights in public houses in Delaware. Plaintiffs supported by the NRA have already lost a federal court battle on the issue, but they aren’t willing to give up just yet.

Attorney Francis G.X. Pileggi on behalf of the plaintiffs argued that Delaware’s constitution defines gun rights much more broadly than the U.S. Constitution does; therefore, rulings on gun rights should be left to the state rather than the federal government.

Barry M. Willoughby of the Wilmington County Housing Authority balked at that claim. "What we have here is an attempt by the plaintiff to use a legal gambit to deny this court jurisdiction," he said.

It’s difficult to underestimate the importance of this court battle. For judges, precedent is one of the most important factors in determining whether or not a law is valid. With no other major court battles on this issue, the federal court’s ruling could become the new status quo for national regulations regarding guns in public housing.

The initial lawsuit, which sought to overturn outright bans on firearms in public houses, originally went to the Delware Court of Chancery. From there, the suit was transferred to the U.S. District Court because the lawsuit directly related to federal constitutional issues.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Stark eventually sided with the Wilmington Housing Authority and found the restrictions on gun rights to be limited and reasonable.

Overall, this is a painful blow for gun rights advocates. If the NRA cannot successfully divert the lawsuit back to the state level, they may have unintentionally shot themselves in the foot by helping set new national guidelines for gun control. If they’re able to get their do-over, however, Delaware courts may very well reverse the ruling and secure gun rights for people living in public housing. 

Source: USA Today