Idaho Bill Would Prevent Domestic Abusers From Having Guns

Feb 15, 2018

A bill introduced in the Idaho House could reduce gun violence in domestic abuse situations. House Bill 585 would make it a misdemeanor for people who have been convicted of domestic violence within the past two years to buy or possess a firearm. 

Federally, it is illegal for people convicted of domestic violence to own a firearm. But state Rep. Melissa Wintrow, who introduced the bill, said the state doesn't have a way of enforcing that ban. 

The Boise Democrat said women are five-times more likely to be killed when a gun is present in a domestic violence situation. She said enforcement of the federal law provides good evidence that a similar law in Idaho would protect families.

"We see an 11 percent reduction in intimate-partner homicide perpetrated with firearms, we see a 17 percent reduction in intimate-partner homicides of women perpetrated by firearms," Wintrow said. "And the most significant, we see a 31 percent decrease in homicides of male children."

The bill currently is in the House Judiciary and Rules Committee. Similar measures have been passed in 28 other states and the District of Columbia. 

In a bipartisan effort by lawmakers, Utah became one of these states in 2017. Idaho lawmakers have rejected gun restrictions in the past, saying they violate the Second Amendment.

While Idaho has some of the loosest gun laws in the country, Wintrow pointed to a survey that found two out of three Idahoans support keeping firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers. She said this bill isn't an attempt to infringe on people's right to own a gun.

"I think sometimes we're not hearing that word 'convicted,'" she said. "In order to lose your rights, you have to be convicted, and up until that time, all your rights are afforded."

Wintrow said she's been working with Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue on this issue. She expects a full hearing on the bill in the next few weeks, where some of the survivors of domestic violence and children of domestic homicide will share their stories.