Breaking News
More () »

Can Idaho cities and counties legally declare themselves to be 'Second Amendment sanctuaries'?

There are over a dozen Second Amendment sanctuary cities in Idaho, but an Oregon county's declaration poses questions about if state law can supersede federal law.

BOISE, Idaho — "Second Amendment sanctuary city" is a term that has been more relevant in Idaho in recent years, especially as several Idaho cities have declared themselves to be one within the last year.

As a Second Amendment sanctuary, any state or federal laws thought to infringe on a person's right to bear arms will not be enforced in said state, city or county.

The City of Star declared itself a second amendment sanctuary city in July 2020, followed by Eagle in September 2020 and Cascade and Saint Anthony in October 2020.

Nampa added its name to the list at the end of last year, and Kuna and Hagerman began 2021 with the same declarations.

There are currently more than a dozen Second Amendment sanctuary cities and counties in Idaho.

The Second Amendment sanctuary movement gained momentum in 2018 when the threat of stricter gun laws was being considered in the wake of several mass shootings across the country.

Last fall, about 400 locations in 20 states considered themselves a Second Amendment sanctuary. In 2021, there are about 1,200.

None of the current Second Amendment sanctuary cities have faced legal scrutiny until now. Columbia County, a small county north of Portland, Ore., narrowly passed an ordinance last year that stated county officials would not enforce most state, federal and local firearm regulations.

In addition, the ordinance stated that anyone who did enforce these regulations would be fined. Individuals would be fined $2,000 and corporations would be fined $4,000.

The ordinance did, however, allow exceptions, such as enforcing gun restrictions for felons.

The measure passed the Oregon legislature in November 2020, but state law allows a judge to look over the ordinance to ensure all sections are legal before putting it into effect.

Supporters of the ordinance are in favor of fewer regulations, while opponents argue that federal law supersedes state law and state constitutions.

There is currently no timeline on this determination, and the judge's decision will not influence laws outside Oregon. Some believe, however, the challenges presented in the Beaver State may influence Idaho's sanctuary cities.

In 2014, then-Gov. Butch Otter signed Senate Bill 1332, the Idaho Federal Firearms, Magazine and Register Ban Enforcement Act, into law. The bill passed the Idaho House 68-0 and the Idaho Senate 34-0.

SB 1332 was meant to protect Idaho law enforcement officers from being forced to violate their oath to uphold Idaho's Constitution. Specifically, Section 11, Article 1 mentions the right of the people to keep and bear arms, which shall not be abridged.

Idaho's Attorney General has not yet weighed in on the legality of such cities and counties, but Virginia's Attorney General said these declarations carry little to no legal force.

Join 'The 208' conversation:

Before You Leave, Check This Out