Supreme Court hears arguments over 2nd Amendment case from Sandpoint
By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
The Idaho Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a case concerning Idahoans’ ability to carry firearms at private events on public property.
One of the plaintiffs in the case is Sen. Scott Herndon, R-Sagle, in the lawsuit against the City of Sandpoint. Other plaintiffs include Jeff Avery, the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance and the Second Amendment Foundation, who filed the lawsuit in 2020.
The lawsuit stems from the 2019 Festival at Sandpoint, held at War Memorial Field, which prohibited firearms at the event that year. The field is owned by the city but leased to the festival for the event.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Donald Kilmer, argued that the firearm ban was in violation of constitutional rights and the Second Amendment.
Justices peppered him with questions about land or buildings a city may lease and whether those hypothetical buildings’ lessees would be able to prohibit firearms on the property.
Kilmer maintained they would not, and only privately-owned property can prohibit the use or possession of firearms on the property.
In 2021, First Judicial District Judge Lansing Haynes sided with the city, leading the plaintiffs to appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court.
“The conduct of a music festival is in no way a traditional governmental function, and no evidence exists in this record that satisfies the public function test that would establish state action,” wrote Haynes in his summary judgment in 2021.
Haynes wrote that the city’s lease to the festival did not delegate firearms banning authority, the city simply leased the park to allow them to conduct the music festival.
Attorney for the City of Sandpoint Katharine Brereton told the court Monday that the plaintiffs had failed to provide evidence to support their claims and the justices should stand with the district court.
She stressed that a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would have serious consequences for future lessees, whether it’s a park venue or other publicly owned property.
“People who rent from a public housing authority would have no right to exclude someone from their home who is carrying a firearm,” Brereton offered as an example. “…This would effectively deprive people of their right to defend their castle.”
Prior to the lawsuit argued Monday, Bonner County had sued the city, saying Sandpoint did not have the authority to prohibit firearms on public land, but the court disagreed there, too.
The Supreme Court will issue a written decision on the case at a later date.