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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Otter lets ‘stand your ground’ law take effect, though he says it would OK shooting mischievous kids

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (Otto Kitsinger / AP, file)

BOISE – Idaho Gov. Butch Otter on Wednesday allowed a “stand your ground” gun rights bill to become law without his signature – though he said it would legally allow mischievous Idaho kids to be shot to death.

The bill was promoted as writing into state law longstanding protections under Idaho case law and jury instructions for actions taken in self-defense, including that state law recognizes no duty to retreat when one is threatened. But opponents said it went further, changing the burden of proof so that someone who has killed another person is considered innocent if that person was entering their home, business, car or property.

“I commend those portions of SB 1313 that codify existing case law and recognize the sanctity of private property,” Otter wrote in a letter to Lt. Gov. Brad Little, in Little’s capacity as president of the Senate. “However, a thorough review of this bill reveals some concerns that warrant further review during the next legislative session. Among my biggest concerns are the potential unintended consequences on our children.”

Otter offered two examples: He said a juvenile who broke into an RV to steal a soda and was discovered by the RV’s owner could legally be shot to death under the bill. And he said rural teenagers who sneaked into a cornfield in the middle of the night could be legally killed under the bill, “simply because the teenagers used stealth to sneak onto the property and are unlawfully trespassing.”

The bill, as written, he said, “will exonerate killings that otherwise would be considered unreasonable.”

The bill passed the Idaho Senate on a 29-6 party-line vote, with all Republicans voting yes and all Democrats no. It passed the House 57-12.