COEUR d'ALENE — Rathdrum resident and Idaho Constitutional Militia officer Howard Stavis has been a gun owner since the 1980s and very much believes in Second Amendment rights for Americans.
He said he moved to Idaho from states “where you're really made to feel guilty if you're a gun owner.”
“In California, if you owned a certain gun, after a certain calendar date, you became a felon, because they outlawed those certain guns,” he said. “Being a gun owner there was very difficult. You were made to feel like a freak. So, I came to Idaho.”
When it comes to the idea of Constitutional Carry, which would legalize carrying a concealed weapon without having to obtain a permit, Stavis said he’s a little bit on the fence. He emphasized that it's a matter of responsibility.
“There are many times in my life where I’ve said, ‘Yeah, that’s a really good idea, we should have that,’” he said. “I think about the people who I wouldn’t like to see have a gun even though they would be allowed to, because it’s a big responsibility. Not everybody’s willing to get the training, the education and the experience to have that responsibility. Also, I like the idea of my permit because if I encounter a police officer, if I tell him, ‘I have a carry permit,’ then right away, he says, ‘Oh, OK, you're a good guy,’ whereas if there wasn't anything like that, how does he know me from a million other schnooks who he doesn’t know if he can trust? There's a psychological thing about being in the club when you do have this permit.”
Stavis was among the more than 200 people who attended the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance's Constitutional Carry Gun Rally in Coeur d'Alene City Park Saturday evening. Many proudly carried their firearms and shared their passion for American citizens' right to bear arms. Some held signs that read, “No permission needed,” “Obey God not men” or “Gun-free zone” with a slash through the words. Many brought their families and canine companions as they listened to the speakers and supported the Alliance's message.
Charismatic 9-year-old actor, Ryan Durbin of Priest River, began the rally with salutes to Old Glory and the great state of Idaho as well as a thoughtful prayer. He acknowledged the recent school shooting in Oregon.
“We would like to lift up the families in Oregon that have had to suffer such a horrible loss this week in the school shooting," he said. "I would like to pray for this group that you will give us the strength and wisdom to stand for truth and freedom.”
The rally was the last of five rallies the ISAA presented throughout Idaho.
“We saved the best for last,” said rally organizer Greg Pruitt. “The reason that we’re out here traveling all over the state is because we know there are thousands of Idahoans who want permitless carry in Idaho and who are sick and tired of seeing other states get it done before us.”
“We want it now,” a man in the crowd shouted.
Pruitt and the other speakers, Idaho State Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and Washington State Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, urged listeners to go to their legislators and stand up for their rights for Constitutional Carry.
“We've got to make a difference, we’ve got to stick together, we’ve got to reach out to our elected officials,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt said believers in gun rights are not conspiracy theorists. He said President Barack Obama will be working to confiscate guns in his last year as president.
“President Obama is coming, he has made it clear on BBC that his biggest frustration as president has not been his ability to take away your guys’ guns,” he said.
Scott said she and one other legislator have really stepped up to implement the Constitutional Carry bill.
“We believe in personal liberties and freedoms, and we believe the majority of people want to protect and strengthen our Second Amendment Rights,” she said. “This is not a party issue. This is an American issue.”
A gun rights supporter wears a pistol and ammunition on his waist belt near the bandshell in the city park.
Justin Pervis holds alongside Jen Paull, both residents of Hayden, prior to the pro-gun rally start.