HB 444 is unneeded and is dangerous, because it will encourage unnecessary and even unjustified murder.
Current, long-standing Idaho law already allows a person to use force, including deadly force, in self-defense whenever the use of force is reasonable under the circumstances. Present law does not include a duty to retreat, but the reasonableness requirement allows Idahoans to protect themselves while recognizing that it is better to avoid taking a life.
But HB 444 goes further, prohibiting a judge or jury from even considering whether a person was unreasonable in refusing to avoid an armed conflict. It prohibits officers from arresting or detaining a murder suspect unless they can prove in advance that his use of force was unreasonable. Police may be facing a shooting with suspicious circumstances, a dead victim, no other witnesses, and a shooter with no incentive to cooperate because the law presumes he acted lawfully.
Remember what happened under Florida’s stand your ground laws. A Mr. Zimmerman followed and stalked an unarmed teen walking peacefully along a public sidewalk, then shot him to death. Mr. Zimmerman’s claim of self defense was honored because there were no witnesses. Should the threatened teen have been armed also?
Never miss a local story.
John E. Tanner, Idaho Falls