BOISE — A bill that would codify existing “stand your ground” statute in Idaho is headed to the House floor.
The House State Affairs Committee voted 12-3 Thursday to send SB 1313 to the full chamber with a do-pass recommendation after two hours of impassioned testimony for and against the legislation.
SB 1313, one of two Castle Doctrine bills introduced this session, would put self defense standards that already exist in Idaho case law and jury instruction into statute. Proposed changes include expanding the definition of justifiable homicide to include not only defending one’s home against an intruder, but also defending one’s place of employment or an occupied vehicle.
The bill would also add a presumption that somebody who enters or attempts to enter a residence, place of employment or vehicle “unlawfully and by force or by stealth” is doing so with the intent to commit a felony.
Supporters of the bill, including the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the National Rifle Association, say it would clarify self-defense rights for ordinary citizens who don’t have the time or legal know-how to read and interpret decades worth of case law.
“There’s a lot of confusion about what Idaho law is,” Twin Falls Prosecutor Grant Loebs told the House committee Thursday, speaking on behalf of the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association. “But the thing we have to be absolutely clear about is that Idaho is a Stand Your Ground state. Idaho already is that.”
Much of the testimony from opponents of the bill, including the ACLU of Idaho and representatives from Moms Demand Action, revolved around concerns that introducing a Stand Your Ground law would encourage people to shoot recklessly and impulsively. They pointed to increases in justifiable homicides in states that have enacted Stand Your Ground legislation, and data suggesting that racial minorities are disproportionately impacted by such laws.
Terri Pickens Manweiler, an attorney in Boise and former public defender, said she didn’t necessarily disagree with putting Idaho jury instruction standards into code, but took issue with the bill codifying presumptions.
“I don’t think it’s the role of the legislative branch to determine presumptions or intent,” Manweiler said.
Others argued that the bill doesn’t go far enough. Idaho Second Amendment Alliance spokesman Seth Rosquist told the committee that SB 1313 contains a “very limited presumption of innocence.” Rosquist suggested the bill should include a presumption that the person shooting acted reasonably.
Gun rights in Idaho are “constantly under attack,” Rosquist said. “Idaho is soon becoming the next Oregon or Washington.”
The three votes against sending the bill to the floor came from Rep. Elaine Smith, a Democrat from Pocatello; Rep. Priscilla Giddings, a Republican from White Bird; and acting Rep. George Tway, who is filling in for Rep. Hy Kloc, a Democrat from Boise.