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Sunday, April 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

House pulls bill expanding felon firearm ban

The House has pulled a bill that cleared the House State Affairs Committee on Jan. 31 to expand the list of convicted felons who lose their gun rights, out of concerns over how “terrorism” is defined. Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, who along with two other representatives repeatedly visited the armed occupiers of the federal Malheur Wildlife Refuge last year, told the Idaho Statesman she believes the crime is defined too broadly; it’s one of four that the Idaho Sheriffs Association wants to add to the list of 37 crimes that cause an offender to forfeit rights to own a gun after serving their sentence.

Idaho law defines terrorism as dangerous criminal acts intended to “intimidate or coerce” citizens or a government entity or that “affect the conduct of a government by the use of weapons of mass destruction,” a definition that Boyle told Statesman reporter Bill Dentzer is “too broad.” “Just about anything you do is going to intimidate somebody,” she said. You can read Dentzer’s full report here.

The other three crimes the bill, HB 79, proposed to add to the list are human trafficking, hijacking, and supplying firearms to a criminal gang. Crimes already on the list include murder, rape, kidnapping, aggravated assault, intimidating a witness, robbery, cannibalism, felony drug trafficking, and more.

Last year, the Senate voted 29-6 against a bill to add eight crimes to the list: These four, plus arson, theft by extortion, felony rioting, and racketeering. After that defeat, the Idaho Sheriffs Association proposed a slimmed-down version with just the current four crimes, but it died in a Senate committee.

House State Affairs Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, told the Statesman he asked for the bill to be returned to committee to avoid “a big battle up on the floor about it.” Michael Kane, Sheriffs Association lobbyist, told the Statesman he’s “exploring options,” and said, “It might be that I just have to come back next year. We’ll just continue trying to find a way forward.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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