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Idaho Supreme Court Affirms Ban of Firearms at Music Festival

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The Idaho Supreme Court upheld a lower-court decision affirming the right to ban firearms at a private music festival on city land in Sandpoint, Idaho.

Scott Herndon and Jeff Avery filed the lawsuit claiming the city and Festival at Sandpoint violated their 2nd Amendment rights by not allowing them entry to the festival on Aug. 9, 2019, because they were carrying firearms.

Additional plaintiffs included the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance and Second Amendment Foundation.

On April 26, 2021, the District Court heard oral arguments before taking the matter under advisement and reaching a decision on June 10, 2021, to dismiss the lawsuit “with prejudice.”

Dismissing a case with prejudice means it cannot be re-filed. The plaintiffs appealed the decision, rejected by the state’s highest court on June 22.

In a 26-page decision, the court wrote, “We agree with the district court: the appellants failed to establish that they were deprived of a constitutional right by a government actor.

“The appellants put forward no argument on appeal to explain how the city of the festival violated their constitutional rights.”

Earlier Appeal

The case stems from a 2019 lease issued by Sandpoint to the Festival at Sandpoint, a nonprofit corporation, for a multi-day event at city-owned War Memorial Field Park.

The festival has a “long history of prohibiting patrons from bringing weapons, including firearms, into the event,” according to the high court decision.

Herndon and Avery were both carrying firearms when security officers stopped them from entering the event.

Although the city owns the memorial field, the Supreme Court agreed that the city and festival were bound by private contract, which allows discretionary use of the property, including a ban on all weapons.

“The festival maintained a rule that prohibited attendees from possessing weapons, including firearms, inside the venue,” the decision added. “The festival adopted its rule 20 years earlier and employed it each year during the concert series.”

The plaintiffs argued that prohibiting firearms on public property violated the state U.S. constitutions.

While Idaho, a permitless carry state, prohibits infringement on 2nd Amendment rights on public land, the high court justices agreed that a private lease is a binding contract.

“As the holder of the [lease], the festival has the right to the use of the leased property, which includes the authority to set limitations on those who come onto the property.

“This relationship is contractual and grants the tenant the authority to exercise control over the property. Therefore, a tenant has the ‘right to exclude’ as holder of a possessory interest.

“That right includes the right to limit where or how others enter the leasehold property, or what they bring with them onto the property.”

The Epoch Times reached out to the Second Amendment Foundation for comment.

City Council President Kate McAlister did not return an email from The Epoch Times requesting comment.

2nd Amendment ‘Gutted’

The Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, a plaintiff in the case, posted on Facebook that the state supreme court decision effectively “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 organization called for a special legislative session to “immediately remedy this anti-gun decision” by the high court.

However, there have been other instances of banned firearms at private events.

In May 2022, the Secret Service prohibited firearms at President Donald Trump’s speech at the National Rifle Association Annual Leadership Forum in Houston.

Weapons, including firearms, were also prohibited at Trump’s “Save America” rallies before the 2022 mid-term elections.



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