By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
The Idaho Supreme Court unanimously rejected an appeal regarding Idahoans’ ability to carry firearms at private events on public property.
The case involved Sen. Scott Herndon, R-Sagle, in a dispute against the City of Sandpoint. The court heard arguments in February. Plaintiffs challenged whether their Second Amendment right to carry firearms extended to a concert hosted by a private group at War Memorial Field in Sandpoint.
Other plaintiffs in the case included Jeff Avery, the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance and the Second Amendment Foundation, who filed the lawsuit in 2020. The initial 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.
On Aug. 9, 2019, Herndon and Avery purchased tickets to the festival and attempted to enter, but were stopped because they carried firearms.
Plaintiffs argued the park is public property and it could not prohibit firearms on the property. The city argued that private groups leasing the property may prohibit weapons at its events.
The court’s opinion, written by Justice John Stegner, sided with the city.
“Nothing within the terms of the lease between the City and The Festival addresses carrying firearms or restricts the rules that The Festival may adopt while using the park for its private concerts,” the court wrote in its opinion. “Beyond that, both the Second Amendment and Article I, section 11 of the Idaho Constitution apply only to government actors, not private parties.”
In response to the decision, the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance called for a special legislative session in social media posts on Thursday morning.
“The Idaho Supreme Court has gutted the 2nd Amendment in Idaho by ruling 5-0 that public property can be “leased” to a private party who can ban guns whenever and wherever they want,” the Facebook post said. “Idaho’s firearm preemption law essentially does NOT exist… With so many summer events kicking off soon at county fairgrounds, we have no idea which places are banning or not banning firearms, and which ones have leases in place or don’t.”
The city of Sandpoint’s counsel offered the following statement Thursday afternoon:
“Today the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed what the City of Sandpoint has always known to be true: that it acted within the bounds of the law in leasing War Memorial Field to the Festival at Sandpoint and the Festival exercised its lawful rights as the lessee,” wrote Katharine Brereton, partner at Lake City Law Group in a statement. “The Supreme Court confirmed that this case has always been about fundamental property rights and that the plaintiffs have never established that their right to keep and bear arms, or any other protected right, was ever infringed. The lawsuits that have arisen from the 2019 music festival have finally come to an end and I am pleased with the outcome.”