‘Stand Your Ground’ bill headed to Idaho House

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(Photo by KYLE PFANNENSTIEL)Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, opening debate on his bill on the Senate floor on March 2.

By KYLE PFANNENSTIEL

Contributing writer

BOISE — The Idaho Senate passed a “stand your ground” bill on a party-line, 29-6 vote this past Friday.

SB 1313 would make it so people in their homes, workplaces, businesses or vehicles could use deadly force to defend themselves when anyone enters without permission.

The bill says that “a person who unlawfully and by force or by stealth enters or attempts to enter a habitation, place of business or employment or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit a felony.”

The bill states that people don’t have to retreat or wait until a threat is ‘apparent,’ unlike under current Idaho law, but many legislators said that wasn’t how courts interpreted self-defense cases.

They argue a slew of Idaho case rulings set precedent for interpretation more akin to the Castle Doctrine, the legal principle that enshrines “stand your ground” principles. That’s why the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Todd Lakey, said he proposed SB 1313.

“Currently, the power to eliminate or reduce those principles and applications of law rest with the judiciary. I admit, they’ve done a good job of doing that. But, the place to establish and maintain these principles is in Idaho code,” Lakey said in floor debate. “This is the purview and responsibility of the legislative branch.”

Lakey’s bill also states the standard of reasonable use of force in court comes from the perspective of a “reasonable person placed in the same position.”

24 states have ‘stand your ground’ laws on the books, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

All Senate Republicans voted for the bill, with all six Democrats opposed, in the 29-6 vote.

Assistant Majority Leader Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, said the legislation helps people understand their rights.

“The point we need to remember is that we’re not all legal experts,” Vick said.

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, argued the bill will escalate non-violent situations.

“‘Stand your ground’ laws provide individuals a basis to excuse or rationalize the potential harm of another human being. From my vantage point the legislation is dangerous,” she said.

SB 1313 heads to the House side. It needs to clear House committee, the floor and received the governor’s approval to become law.

Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.

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