The Delaware State Fair will get underway on Friday with enhanced security that includes a weapons ban. It comes after a long-running wave of mass shootings around the nation.
All patrons entering the fairgrounds must walk through weapons/metal detectors that will be in operation at all gates. Weapons of any kind are prohibited regardless of a patron’s “license to carry” status. This includes knives and all firearms, a release stated. The fair will also be on the lookout for gang colors, clothes, etc. The enhanced security came in consultation with law enforcement, according to a fair release.
The Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association criticized the ban. The group is affiliated with the National Rifle Association, which has long argued that carrying guns decreases security, citing incidents where an individual stopped a mass shooting. The group has opposed most gun legislation, instead arguing for strict enforcement of current laws. Gun control advocates say actions from individuals rarely occur with weapons coming with other dangers in public settings.
Guns are generally banned at major sporting events except in cases where state laws allow possession.
If patrons have prohibited items at the time of screening, they can either return the item to their vehicle or surrender them at the gate for disposal by the Fair. Surrendered items will not be returned, the fair stated.
The fair will use an advanced weapons detection system known as “OpenGate by CEIA.” A release stated that initial screening will not require separation from outerwear garments, wallets, purses, backpacks, bags, strollers, nor the removal of the contents from any pockets.
Should a walk-through metal detector or any security official identify the need for further screening, the fair reserves the right to conduct additional screening of the fairgoer and their bags as a condition of gaining entry or maintaining admitted status on the fairgrounds.
Limited exceptions include small pocket knives with a blade no longer than two and one-half inches. The item must be presented to a security officer. Delaware off-duty federal, local and state police officers are exempt, but not retired or out-of-state law enforcement officers.
The fair, held in a small town in Kent County, has never seen any serious incidents, but events and gatherings elsewhere in the state and region have.