Brent Regan, the GOP chair in Kootenai County, Idaho’s third-largest, has an intriguing spin on gun ownership. Apparently, just having the right to bear arms doesn’t cut it for him, because that still leaves too many people not packing heat. So he recently wrote a post on Facebook explaining that, by his understanding of the state constitution, people who don’t have guns should be penalized for violating what he thinks is the law:
People who DON’T own a gun should register and pay a fee. Per the Idaho Constitution Article 14 Section 1, all able bodied males between the ages of 18 and 45 are part of the militia and should arm themselves. Every person claiming an exemption must pay a fee. That is the LAW.
Well that’s a heck of a fine idea! Instead of registering guns, we can register non-gun-owners, and then, following the logic the gunhumpers always roll out, those people can eventually be confiscated! (Or something?)
Mind you, there’s a bit of a problem with Mr. Regan’s logic there. (Only a bit.) The section of Idaho’s constitution he cites does indeed say all males aged 18 to 45 are in the militia, but it also says they shall “perform such military duty as may be required by law.” The next section of the constitution goes on to authorize the state legislature to pass laws providing for “the enrolment, equipment and discipline of the militia.” The Idaho law doing that is quite clear that the main force of the state militia is the National Guard, which is “equipped and armed as provided in the national defense act,” while the “organized” and “unorganized” militia are simply the portion of the population that could be called up for military service by the governor — at which point they’d be armed and equipped by the state, too. (We guess they’d issue them, like social studies textbooks!)
So while I’ll readily admit I’m not a lawyer, it’s pretty clear the Idaho constitution definitely doesn’t require anyone to own a gun.
But wait! What about that language requiring anyone who refuses to serve in the militia to be registered and pay a fee? Seems Regan left out a tiny detail there: It refers to conscientious objectors, who cannot be compelled to serve in the state militia in peacetime. We suppose all bets are off if we ever go to war with Oregon. And again, it has nothing to do with not owning your own gun. We stopped ourselves before going down the rabbit hole of whether charging a fee for conscientious objection is even constitutional; we rather doubt it, but nope, not looking.
So who is this Brent Regan guy and why are we even bothering with him? For one thing, it’s a funny bit of bullshit. But Regan is actually a pretty big wheel in Idaho rightwing politics, despite not holding elective office (he ran once for school board in Coeur D’Alene, but lost). Back in 2013, when he was a CD’A School Board Trustee, Regan apologized after making a “joke” about Barack Obama. At a political event, he said he’d been talking with his wife about “assault weapons,” and who even knows what those are?
“I said, ‘They can’t figure out what an assault weapon is – it’s just black and it looks scary,’ and she looks at me and said, ‘Well, so is Obama.'”
The local TV station reported that “some people” called the joke racist.
As this BuzzFeed News piece details, Regan has been a key figure in moving politics in Northern Idaho far to the right, as a party boss in a part of the state where there is no effective Democratic party. In Idaho, Democrats tend only to win office in socialist hellholes like Boise, Moscow, and Pocatello. In Northern Idaho, there are only other Republicans to fight, so politics tends to be a matter of one Republican accusing another of ideological impurity.
Regan also chairs the board of directors of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, the ultra-libertarian astroturf group that has been at the center of opposition to Gov. Brad Little’s efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Regan’s comments about guns were featured in this AP article about how at the state and local level Republican leaders have been pretty radical on social media, and wildly supportive of Donald Trump’s big election lie.
Back in December, Regan was very enthusiastic about weirdo lawyer Sidney Powell, writing on Parler, “SIDNEY POWELL’S ‘KRAKEN’ IS DOD CYBER WARFARE PROGRAM! WE ARE AT WAR! – THE MARSHALL REPORT.” His Facebook posts are a steady stream of uncut far-right gobbledyshit. Yesterday, he posted an all-text meme reading “Dems say price-fixing for chickens is bad but price-fixing for humans is good. #MinimumWageIsZero.” Sunday, he offered this very amusing cartoon explaining that Donald Trump is a lion, Kamala Harris is a snake, and Joe Biden is the feeble pedo from Family Guy.
The guy just really loves politics, as long as by “politics” you mean culture-war shit-stirring. He doesn’t seem to be all that into the “governing” side of things. But that’s the fun of being a local party chair, we guess!
He also posted a lengthy Facebook message at the AP reporter who contacted him, for “transparency.” Therein he carefully explained that “Demanding election integrity does not incite violence, but failing to have election integrity CAN spawn protests,” and warned the reporter against quoting people out of context. The AP reporter dutifully quoted his response to her request for comment:
“My message on social media, print media, and in person is consistent: ‘Pray for serenity. Be the eye of the storm. Stay calm. Think clearly. Don’t panic. Stay peaceful while demanding integrity and honesty.'”
In conclusion, I am very glad I live in Boise, the end.
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