Challenge accepted

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COEUR d'ALENE - The president of Idaho's Second Amendment Alliance said Thursday he is pursuing a legal challenge to a city ordinance banning weapons at parades and other public gatherings.

"We are working on a way to file a suit to challenge the ordinance," said Greg Pruett.

Pruett said his organization has been working with cities all over Idaho to change their local codes to adhere to Idaho's preemption law, which prohibits cities from regulating firearms.

Just last week the organization successfully convinced Twin Falls County Commissioners to unanimously repeal that county's firearms ordinance banning guns in county parks.

On its website, www.idahosaa.org, the alliance is tracking all of the local firearms ordinances in Idaho, and Pruett said they are making progress almost everywhere except for Coeur d'Alene.

"The state law is pretty clear," Pruett said. "The City Council is just thumbing their noses at this."

Coeur d'Alene City Councilman Steve Adams has made Coeur d'Alene's local ordinance - banning all weapons at parades and public assemblies - an issue since March of this year.

Adams asked the council Tuesday night to consider amending that ordinance to allow people attending a local parade or assembly to carry firearms.

He told the council that Idaho code 18-3302(j) specifically prohibits the city from regulating the possession of firearms.

However, Coeur d'Alene City Attorney Mike Gridley told the council that Idaho code 50-308 grants cities the power to prevent and restrain disturbances and disorderly assemblies.

Gridley said that creates a conflict between the two laws.

Adams countered Gridley's conflict argument with the fact that IC 50-308 was specifically amended in 2013 to remove language that allowed cities to "prevent and punish for the carrying of concealed weapons."

"I am just struggling with how you or legal staff could determine that 50-308 is in conflict," Adams told the council Tuesday night. "Clearly the legislature cleaned up this statute because it was in conflict with the other statute."

At that council meeting, Councilman Ron Edinger explained the city's ordinance was developed for good reasons in the late 1990s.

"At the time that we passed the ordinance, we were having problems with Aryans, and everybody that was on the council at that time - including myself - felt it was the right thing to do," he said. "Personally, I think the ordinance has been a good thing for the city of Coeur d'Alene.

"Let somebody challenge it, and we will go from there."

Despite his arguments, Adams' attempt was unsuccessful. Only Adams and Councilman Dan Gookin voted to amend the ordinance.

"That was an absolutely ignorant vote," Pruett said during an interview Thursday.

Pruett said the city will clearly lose a legal challenge of its ordinance, and added that his alliance is ready to fund anybody's legal challenge to the ordinance.

The alliance lacks legal standing to file a suit on its own, but Pruett is working with attorneys to find a way to get legal standing against the ordinance.

"Pretty much an individual would have to show up to a parade or public assembly and be asked to leave or get ticketed by law enforcement to get legal standing," he said, adding the alliance's attorneys are working on other angles as well.

Adams said at least one of the alliance attorneys has researched whether the council's denial of his amendment constituted legal standing, and he was told that it did not.

He said the alliance is also checking with the attorney general's office in Boise.

"The city's attorney has the authority to ask for a review of the ordinance, but after Tuesday, I doubt he is going to do that," Adams said.

Adams said the council's action Tuesday night will likely result in more people carrying weapons to future council meetings and parades in an effort to challenge the ordinance.

"I was hoping that wouldn't have to happen," Adams said. "But there is definitely the potential for that to happen."

Under the "Preemptive Project" tab on the alliance website it says the alliance contacted the city of Post Falls in July requesting the city to amend its local ordinance, which prohibits discharging a firearms in city limits, to include a provision that exempts self-defense.

The alliance has not received a response.

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