Jeff Smith, a Boise State University graduate living in Utah, heard about Idahoans for Liberty's Second Amendment rally the evening of Jan. 12. He drove to Idaho and spent the night in his car in a WalMart parking lot in Boise, and was rubbing his German shepherd Kira's belly when Boise Weekly
caught up with him at the Grove Plaza just ahead of when the rally was scheduled to march to the statehouse.
For Smith, who brought along his loaded AR-15 assault rifle, the rally represented kickback against dependence on the government.
"We should be able to govern ourselves," Smith said.
The threats to his freedom, he said, aren't terrorists. "They're guys wearing suits and ties rather than living in caves overseas," Smith said.
In general terms, the rally was in support of Second Amendment rights and a chance for advocates to urge legislators to reinforce state support of the right to bear arms in Idaho, but the supporters who gathered at the Grove Plaza the morning of Jan. 13 had numerous reasons for attending. For some, it was to protest President Barack Obama's efforts to enact gun legislation. Others were there to remind their legislators that gun rights are important to them. Nick Brizzi, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was there because, as a veteran, he felt gun ownership was a right he'd earned in the jungles of southeast Asia.
"If a man is given the right to have a weapon to serve his country, he should have that right until he dies," Brizzi said.
Greg Pruett, the event's organizer, started Idahoans for Liberty and organized the Monday rally because national organizations like the National Rifle Association needed local corollaries to work with state legislatures and city councils.
"The people who make a difference work [at the statehouse]," he said. "I wanted an organization that was Idaho specific."
After Pruett urged the crowd to "tell [the legislators] how you feel" and thanking a motorcycle-mounted police escort, the crowd snaked its way from the Grove Plaza east on Idaho Street, then north on Capitol Boulevard to the statehouse, with people adding to the crowd's ranks along the way. What started as a group of about 50 people at the plaza had blossomed into a throng of about 200 by the time it settled at the Capitol steps.
No legislators were there to greet them (though several did join the crowd on the steps later during the rally), which dismayed many.
"Well, the government failed to support us again," said one voice in the crowd.
They were met by Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman and Alexandria Kincaid of 3G Law, both of whom delivered short addresses to stress the significance of the gathering taking place.
"If we don't get a restoration of freedom ... we'll be in a world of hurt," Hoffman said, describing the Second Amendment as "God-given, and it is up to us to protect it vigorously," to the enthusiastic cheers of the assembled group.
Kincaid, wearing a necklace made from brass gun casings, called on gun rights supporters to tell their representatives to strengthen Idaho's Castle Doctrine—the right for people to use deadly force to defend their homes—and warned against encroaching threats to Second Amendment rights.
"We don't want to be New York, Colorado or Connecticut," she said.