Idaho Bill Passed a Ban on Militias

The Idaho Senate recently approved a bill known as Senate Bill 1056 that seeks to repeal the statewide ban on militias, despite opposition from state Democrats. The bill has the support of Governor Brad Little and the Idaho National Guard.

If passed into law, Senate Bill 1056 would remove section 46-802 of the Idaho Code. This presently prohibits groups of men from forming a military organization or parading with firearms in public areas in cities or towns.

Sen. Foreman: Law prohibiting militias violated citizens’ constitutional rights

As a clarification, it’s important to note if the proposed repeal of the statewide ban on militias is enacted, cities and towns would still be prohibited from providing support or raising funds for “a military company or organization” outside of the National Guard.

Furthermore, the bill was previously rejected by the state Senate last year after being passed by the Idaho House of Representatives.

Senator Dan Foreman, the sponsor of Senate Bill 1056, argued in February that the current law prohibiting militias violated citizens’ constitutional rights to assemble and bear arms.

He emphasized that repealing the 1927 law would not exempt individuals carrying firearms from following existing gun laws.

During his speech to the Senate State Affairs Committee, Senator Dan Foreman acknowledged that firearms may be intimidating to individuals who do not own or use them.

However, he maintained this should not be used as an excuse to deprive people of their constitutional right to bear arms. “We cannot deprive people of their constitutional rights out of fear,” he stated.

People Deprived of Constitutional Rights Out of Fear

On March 6, the state Senate voted on SB 1056 and approved the bill with a 24-9 vote, with two members absent or excused.

During the hearing on Senate Bill 1056, state Senator James Ruchti, a Democrat, expressed his opposition to the proposed repeal of the statewide ban on militias. He criticized the bill and likened it to empowering neo-Nazis, as reported by KPVI.

Meanwhile, on March 6th, state Senator Dan Foreman reiterated his position that people should not be deprived of their constitutional rights out of fear.

He acknowledged there will always be individuals who break the law and seek to create unrest, but he emphasized the appropriate response should be based on due process.

Senator Foreman believes the state’s response should not infringe on constitutional rights, regardless of any fears or assumptions about the situation.

As per the Idaho Statesman, the Idaho National Guard introduced a bill to repeal Section 46-802 of the Idaho Code in January 2022. The state Senate approved the bill on March 6.

Major Stephen Stokes, general counsel for the Idaho National Guard, described the statute as “antiquated.” He argued it restricts fundamental rights and freedoms protected by both the US and Idaho Constitutions.