Credit: Contributed photo
Idaho Capitol Building
As of Friday, February 2, 2018
BOISE A bill to revise Idaho self-defense laws, known as “stand your ground” legislation, was approved for consideration by an Idaho House panel Jan. 29.
The legislation, from Rep. Christy Zito, R-Hammett, was drafted in consultation with gun rights organizations like the National Rifle Association. It would protect those using deadly force against people invading their homes or workplace in certain circumstances by creating criminal immunity for self-defense while removing the existing exemption for self-defense in Idaho’s justifiable homicide statutes.
Members of the House State Affairs Committee questioned some of the wording, as a draft of the bill states the person using deadly force is justified, “if he reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another, to prevent the commission of a violent felony or when attempting to apprehend a person for any felony committed.”
“My concern is that we’re making a distinction, where in other legislation we typically use different language,” Rep. Jason Monks, R-Nampa, said.
“Might be more appropriate to modify the language to be more objective,” Rep. Steven Harris, R-Meridian, said.
Another area of contention in the bill’s print hearing was the lack of a definition for workplace, which a second amendment rights attorney said is “best left to the courts.”
Alexandria Kincaid, legal counsel for the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, told the committee the legislation was prompted by Idaho being ranked in the bottom 10 states for gun rights by the Guns and Ammo magazine.
“The ranking in a magazine is not a good reason to change our laws as opposed to problems with the law in the state of Idaho,” Monks said.
When asked about specific examples of Idaho’s current self-defense statutes presenting problems for defendants, Kincaid said she would give examples of cases in a future public hearing.
The bill also would provide repayment to law enforcement officers who use deadly force while acting under “official duties” and are found not guilty of crimes.
After over 40-minutes of debate, the committee voted 14-1 to introduce the bill. Rep. Elaine Smith voted no.
– Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.