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?
John E. Tanner, Idaho Falls