March 12, 2023
WE ASK YOU TO OPPOSE SB1056:
This bill is NOT about parades!! It is about making unregulated militias legal. It is not about freedom to assemble – it is about further straining the burden on law enforcement to make our communities safe. Legalizing unregulated militias means allowing armed bands of vigilantes to patrol our streets.
In Sandpoint, we saw this happen in the summer of 2020, following a demonstration organized by high school students in support of Black Lives Matter. A rumor was started that busloads of “Antifa” were coming to town and stockpiling bricks to throw through windows or downtown businesses. Suddenly there were groups of armed, self-appointed militia members on our streets—accountable to no one but themselves. They claimed they were there to protect their town – but they followed and harassed the young people that were engaged in peaceful demonstrations. Of course the “Antifa” rumor turned out to be completely unfounded.
At that time the BCHRTF composed an open letter to law enforcement that affirmed our confidence in them to protect our community, and encouraged them to “take a firm legal stance against groups who would unlawfully seek to intimidate our neighbors and our visitors.” This letter was signed by 440 community members.
We also met with law enforcement to represent the concerns of the many people who contacted us. We support local law enforcement and count on them to keep us safe. We want them to be safe as well, and SB 1056 that would delete from Idaho law the provision that prohibits unregulated paramilitary organizations that are not accountable to state or federal authorities—would increase the burden on law enforcement rather than lessen it.
The Supreme Court has ruled that laws, like the one SB1056 seeks to repeal, are “necessary to the public peace, safety and good order.”
This law is entirely consistent with Idaho’s constitution and statutory regulation of the state militia. There is no authority for any “body of men, other than the regularly organized national guard, the unorganized militia when called into service of the state”…to “associate themselves together as a military company or organization or parade in public with firearms in any city or town of this state.”
Please see SB1056 for what it is—and vote against it.
Brenda Hammond, Linda Navarre—co-presidents
Bonner County Human Rights Task Force