Idaho House lawmakers are debating whether to strengthen the state’s self-defense law. A proposed bill would extend protections for those who shoot someone who breaks into their home, car or business.
“This is not a get out of jail free card, not at all,” Rep. Christy Zito, R-Hammett, said.
Zito, the bill’s sponsor, says it’s a shift in the burden of proof.
“We are moving the presumption of guilt from the person who use defensive force to the person who was the aggressor,” Zito said.
Currently, a prosecutor can submit evidence that shows you could have run away or retreated from the situation. The proposal removes that option.
“The presumption of innocence is on the person who had to defend themselves,” Zito said.
Zito says this does not allow for any kind of vigilante justice. Someone would need to feel they’re in imminent danger and that there’s a real reason to use force.
“Just like any law anywhere in the United States, reasonableness, is always expected with every action. So, if someone came running into your yard, I don't think the first thing you would do is pull your gun and shoot them,” Zito said.
However, that’s where many of the concerns come in because many feel people react differently in high pressure situations.
“It is very subjective. What a person reasonably believes is a threat and that's why we're so concerned about House Bill 444,” Kate Brusse with Moms Demand Action said.
Brusse added they’re more worried about what could happen in public places regarding the bill as opposed someone breaking into your home.
“This is a solution in search of a problem because our state already recognizes your right to defend yourself in your home,” Brusse said.
The proposal is still in committee. A public hearing for the bill has not yet been scheduled.
You can read the entire bill here.