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Sandpoint seeks suit’s dismissal

by KEITH KINNAIRD
News editor | July 16, 2020 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — Counsel for the city of Sandpoint is calling on a 1st District Court judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Second Amendment advocates over the Festival at Sandpoint’s prohibition of firearms during the annual waterfront concert series.

Peter Erbland, who represents the city in the legal skirmish, filed an answer to a civil complaint filed by the a Idaho Second Amendment Alliance and the Second Amendment Foundation denying the groups’ arguments that the firearms prohibition is unlawful and unconstitutional.

“Sandpoint expressly denies that plaintiffs are entitled to damages, a declaratory judgment or injunctive relief against Sandpoint,” Coeur d’Alene attorney Peter Erbland said in the July 7 filing.

The gun rights groups, in addition to North Idaho residents Scott Herndon and Jeff Avery, filed suit against the city and the Festival last month. They contend the Festival’s firearms prohibition violates a state law which forbids the curtailment of Second Amendment rights on public property in Idaho. The city leases War Memorial Field from the city for the concert series.

The Festival maintains it is enforcing the firearms prohibition in order to honor contractual obligations of artists who perform during the concert run.

Avery and Herndon were denied entry to the Festival and offered refunds last year because they were carrying firearms, which was documented in a video posted to YouTube and other online sites.

Though Sandpoint Police and City Attorney Will Herrington were present during the exchange, the city denies that it was assisting the Festival, a private nonprofit, with event security.

“Sandpoint denies that any officer, employee and/or agent of the city of Sandpoint denied plaintiffs access to the Festival,” Erbland said in the answer.

Rather, Erbland said Herndon was attempting to engage in a legal debate with Herrington at the Festival gates.

Erbland added that the city has no law, rule or ordinance which regulates the possession of firearms on property leased from the city.

Erbland argued in the answer that the plaintiffs failed to present a justiciable controversy requiring declaratory judgment or injunctive relief against the city.

A status conference in the case is set for Aug. 25.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.