BOISE — A bill that would update Idaho’s self-defense law to reflect legal standards established by the judiciary has passed the Senate 29-6.
SB 1313, one of two “Stand Your Ground” bills introduced this session, puts standards that already exist in case law and jury instruction into code. Proposed changes include adding expanding the definition of justifiable homicide in Idaho law to include not only defending one’s home against an intruder, but also defending one’s place of employment or an occupied vehicle.
Supporters of the bill, including Twin Falls Prosecuting Attorney Grant Loebs, say it would clarify legal self-defense rights for everyday citizens who aren’t familiar with case law or jury instruction.
Opponents of the bill, which include the ACLU of Idaho, point to increases in justifiable homicides in states that have enacted “Stand Your Ground” legislation and data suggesting that racial minorities are disproportionately affected by such laws.
Putting the principles into law would provide “a better location for individuals to look and understand these rights of self-defense in Idaho,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Todd Lakey (R-Nampa), during the Senate debate Friday morning. “It also preserves and protects these principles so the courts continue to apply them as the legislature intended.”
Debate for and against the bill was divided along party lines, with Republicans Sen. Dan Foreman of Moscow, Sen. Jim Rice of Caldwell, Sen. Steve Vick of Dalton Gardens and Sen. Marv Hagedorn of Meridian debating in favor of SB 1313.
Democrats Sen. Michelle Stennett of Ketchum, Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb of Boise and Sen. Grant Burgoyne of Boise debated against the bill.
Stennett said she worried that enacting a Stand Your Ground law would encourage impulsive use of lethal force, potentially endangering innocent people and the public.
“In essence, we’re codifying presumptions,” Stennett said. “Law enforcement presumes innocence by law and so do the courts. This bill has an untrained person assume harm and guilt before innocence.”
SB 1313 will now go the House.