SANDPOINT, Idaho.- Festival at Sandpoint faces cancellation as City of Sandpoint and Bonner County battle over firearms ban.
Nathaniel Rateliff, The Avett Brother, and Kool & The Gang. A star-studded line-up for the 2019 Festival at Sandpoint.
It drew big names this year, but now is threatened, in danger of moving, or even cancellation.
In a letter sent to KHQ, outside counsel representing the Bonner County Commissioners and others demand the Sandpoint city attorney to reconsider its ban on firearms and refrain from enforcing a private party's ban on public property.
On August 23rd, Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler also sent a letter asking that he join in as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
According to the letter, Idaho's preemption statute prohibits Idaho cities from regulating the possession of firearms on public property.
The letter states that the Sandpoint city attorney said "there is no violation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or any Idaho statute by the city because the city hasn't taken action to regulate firearms."
While this is all being sorted out, residents and business owners who cash in on the festival every summer are banking on future festivals in their city.
"It's an awesome event to have such great bands come to this small town," Brad Clark said.
Clark and his wife just opened The Burger Dock at the start of summer.
He says if the festival were to leave, Sandpoint business owners and residents would suffer.
"The towns crazy when the festival is in town, the streets are packed up, there's a ton of excitement and a ton going on," Clark said.
According to the festival's website, the event brings in over $1 million per year, a major cash cow.
KHQ reached out to both the city and the county.
The City of Sandpoint released a statement about the lawsuit:
"The City of Sandpoint understands and supports the U.S. Constitution and the Second Amendment thereto. It has been incorrectly stated that the Sandpoint Police Department enforced the gun ban during the Festival at Sandpoint. The City of Sandpoint does not have a policy restricting the public from carrying guns on public property. The Festival has banned weapons at their event as required by their artist contracts. That is within their rights as a private lessee."
Bonner County Commissioner Dan McDonald also released a statement on the lawsuit:
“We had hoped that the City would have taken another look at the very clear language in the state statute and reconsidered their position. They have had, previous to our sending the letter, responses from county residents citing the clear language and have been given ample opportunity to correct their course on this issue and have not. We sent them a letter as I'm sure you know also citing the same very clear language in hopes they would decide to follow state law on this, they have chosen not to.
We County Commissioners take an oath to, among other things, uphold the laws in the Stare of Idaho. Finding this clear discrepancies in the law cited and the refusal to bring themselves in compliance with said law, were left no choice other than to protect the citizens of the County and the laws of the State of Idaho as per our oath.
To that end, we have directed our outside council to file suit against the City of Sandpoint for the decision and position they choose to take. We are saddened that it had to come to this however we take our oath of office seriously and will protect the rights of all county citizens she we see a clear Violation that is outside the law and violates individual rights found within said law. Also, it is not our intention to harm the Festival but to make sure the law is upheld."