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A Music Festival Pits County Against Its Largest Town in a Firearm Lawsuit

Gun Rights and county officials were not amused when security guards at a music festival started conducting firearm searches and turning away event attendees who were carrying firearms. Gun Advocates in Idaho, Bonner County commissioners, and county sheriffs filed a lawsuit against the largest town in the county, Sandpoint, for the violation. The town oversees the War Memorial Field where the music festival was taking place for 10 days. The town leases the venue to the event organizers.

According to Idaho firearm laws, local authorities cannot ban firearms in public venues except in jails, courthouses, and schools. Before filing the lawsuit, Bonner County sheriff, Daryl Wheeler, discussed the issue county commissioners, who agreed that there was a violation.

“If you look at the language of the statue, it’s very clearly written,” Commissioner Dan McDonald said. “Typically, Idaho statute, it takes five attorneys and three small children to figure out what they’re trying to say. This is very plainly written.”

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Sheriff Wheeler said he wanted to avoid putting his deputies at risk of enforcing an unconstitutional ban, in case someone was arrested for violating the ban. Wheeler said that if a lawsuit were to arise from the irregular arrest and detention in one of his jails, he and the deputies would be responsible. He added that residents should never face restrictions in enjoying themselves on public venues funded by taxpayers’ money.

“You shouldn’t be prohibited from enjoying yourself on property that is supported by taxpayer money,” he said.

The sheriff said that arresting people for violating the ambiguous ban would be unconstitutional.

“Based on my interpretation of the law, I would say that’s an unlawful arrest. But the city is saying because it’s a leased property, it is a lawful arrest, and I’m saying it’s unlawful,” Sheriff Wheeler said.

The event expected an audience of about 4,000 partygoers during the 10 days. Famous musicians such as Wynton Marsalis and Jonny Cash play during the event.


Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is pushing universal background checks in our state, and if left unchecked, it will not be long until we see bills like this getting traction in Austin. Texas is embarrassingly ranked 29th for gun rights, and with the help of the political elites in Austin, we will surely rank among New York, California, and Illinois if left to their own devices. Please join our fight today, and help us restore Texas' place as the standard for the U.S.

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