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Judge Rules Sandpoint Festival Can Ban Guns On City Grounds

The shores of Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint, Idaho on a sunny day with blue skies.
Heath Druzin
Boise State Public Radio
The shores of Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint, ID. A judge has ruled that a music festival on city grounds in Sandpoint can ban guns after a gun rights group had filed suit to block the rule.

A North Idaho music festival can continue to ban guns on leased city land after a judge ruled in favor of the city of Sandpoint, the second time the city has beaten back a similar challenge.

The Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, a gun rights group, filed the lawsuit, claiming Sandpoint broke state law by allowing The Festival At Sandpoint to ban guns. The concert series takes place annually on land leased from the city.

Idaho lawdoes prevent cities and counties from banning guns on public lands. But attorneys for Sandpoint successfully argued that events leasing city land can enforce their own rules.

Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad said the ruling is a relief.

“This has really been a monkey on the back of not just the city of Sandpoint and the Festival At Sandpoint, but really the entire community,” he said. “It has really stalled the Festival At Sandpoint.”

Rognstad said many bands won’t play shows without gun restrictions, especially after a mass shooting at a Las Vegas country festival in 2017 left nearly 60 people dead. Rognstad said a ruling against Sandpoint could have cast a cloud over other festivals.

“Had this gone the other way, this would have had far-reaching implications across the state,” he said.

Another lawsuit challenging the Sandpoint festival’s gun rules was thrown out in September.

Idaho Second Amendment Alliance President Greg Pruett did not return a request for comment.

Heath Druzin was Boise State Public Radio’s Guns & America fellow from 2018-2020, during which he focused on extremist movements, suicide prevention and gun culture.

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