In a recent ruling, the Idaho Supreme Court unanimously rejected an appeal challenging the ban on firearms at private events held on public property. This blog post explores the case of Sen. Scott Herndon, R-Sagle, and others against the City of Sandpoint, highlighting the court's decision and its implications for Second Amendment rights.
The Lawsuit and Background
The Lawsuit: Sen. Scott Herndon, along with Jeff Avery, the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, and the Second Amendment Foundation, filed a lawsuit in 2020. The lawsuit stemmed from the 2019 Festival at Sandpoint, an event held at War Memorial Field, which prohibited firearms.
Property Ownership: The field where the festival took place is owned by the city but leased to the festival organizers for the event. This raised the question of whether private groups leasing public property have the right to prohibit firearms.
Arguments and Decision
Plaintiffs' Argument: The plaintiffs contended that since the park is public property, it cannot restrict firearms on its premises. They asserted that the Second Amendment protected their right to carry firearms at the concert.
City's Defense: The City of Sandpoint argued that as private groups lease the property for events, they have the authority to enforce their own rules, including the prohibition of weapons.
The Court's Ruling: Justice John Stegner, writing the court's opinion, sided with the city. The court emphasized that the lease agreement between the city and the festival did not address carrying firearms or restrict the festival's rules. Furthermore, the court stated that the Second Amendment and the Idaho Constitution's Article I, section 11, apply to government actors, not private parties.
Implications and Reactions
Idaho Second Amendment Alliance's Response: In response to the court's decision, the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance expressed disappointment, calling for a special legislative session to address the ruling's impact on firearm rights. They argued that public property leased to private parties could now ban firearms without restrictions, raising concerns about the enforcement of the state's firearm preemption law.
City of Sandpoint's Comment: Idaho Reports reached out to the City of Sandpoint for comment, but no immediate response was received.
The Idaho Supreme Court's decision to uphold the ban on firearms at private events held on public property has sparked debates regarding Second Amendment rights and the authority of private groups leasing such venues. This ruling sets a precedent for similar cases and raises questions about the scope of firearm restrictions on public property leased by private entities.